Life in South Sudan

A blog about working and living in South Sudan.

Month: April, 2012

Stepping out of my comfort zone

I spent my last day in Addis all by myself. Knowing that I was going to be alone for one night scared me two weeks ago, but today it actually felt really good. I had planned to stay in the hotel all day and relax but a sudden urge to see the rest of Addis took overhand and I had to get out and explore.

I made a deal with a taxi driver to take me to a traditional market. After a short visit to the market we continued to Piazza where we ended up having coffee at Tomoca. The coffee was incredible and was served in a cosy atmosphere. A mix of tourists and locals having coffee in fumes from the coffee roasting area behind the coffee machine. They sold very nice bags there, that unfortunatly cost more than I had on me, so the taxi driver bought me one as a gift!?

I totally stepped out of my comfort zone today, driving away on my own with an unknown man, but it turned out to be a really nice experience.

Notice the embroidery on the wall with the Swedish text: “Har ni smakat vårt kaffe?” (“Have you tasted our coffee?”).

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Safety and security

I have been getting some worried phone calls and e-mails during the last couple of days so I thought I would write about my situation and the situation in South Sudan.

There has been some turbulence between Sudan and South Sudan during the last couple of weeks, but none of the countries have declared war against the other. However, no war does not mean there is peace. When the South became independent in July 2011 there was an agreement between them and the North that they would share the oil revenue equally. The agreement period ended in 2011 and the two countries have not reached a new agreement. The South has the main part of the oil resources but the pipe lines for transporting and exporting the oil go through the North. That is part of the reason for the conflict.

I am going to live in Juba which is quite far away from the boarder where the conflict is. I am not sure that this geographical knowledge calms down anyone of you back home. It did not calm me down when my new African friends made that statement to me on my first day in Addis. But after spending two weeks on Fredskorpset’s preparatory course with people from Africa I have learned a few things that I would like to share with you.

In the course we had a session on security. That was especially helpful for me since I will probably feel unsafe sometimes. An advice I have followed and will continue to follow is to inform myself about the situation. I have been following the news on the conflict for months now and the lasts weeks have been stressful.  But one have to remember that sometimes the image we get from media can be exaggerated or biased. That is why I also have talked to South Sudanese people and other people who are working in Juba. They all say the same thing; that I shouldn’t worry and that Juba is safe.

You should also know that we follow the recommendations of the Foreign Ministry. Right now they are advising not to travel to South Sudan UNLESS you’re going to Juba, which basically means that Juba is safe. I will also report to the Norwegian Embassy when I get to Juba so that they know that I am there and can contact me if something should happen.

I will also follow the official safety recommendations, advice from my organization and recommendations from local people. That includes staying at home after dark and definitely not go outside between 1 and 5 o’clock in the morning.

To live in a country with an ongoing conflict is definitely going to be a challenge. So far I feel safe and confident but I promise to take care and be cautious.

Excursion

First impressions

People everywhere. Blue and white taxis. New big houses next to small sheds. Boys playing football. Goat. Woman selling fruit. Store selling mobile phone supplies. More goats. Church. Cow. Children begging for money. Music playing “So what we get drunk…”. Man lying in the street. Bridal shop.

In Addis every step is a new impression. A few minutes walk and this is what you see. I have never seen such a mix of people, wealth, poverty, animals and stores in the same place. In some ways it is exhausting for the mind but at the same time I love the chaos.

Addis 016

Strolling around in Addis Ababa

So many news

On April 30 I’m starting my new job in a completely new country. During one year I will experience a new culture and learn new languages.

I’m going to work at the National Bureau of Statistics in South Sudan. You are all very welcome to follow me on my journey.

Welcome to my new blog!