Saturday, May 31, 2008

cows, tukuls and more

Back to a computer after a week of travel to Dinkaland. I flew to Juba, the capital of southern sudan, and then took a 6 hour bus ride, which is a story all of it's own, to Bor Town. After arriving in Bor Town we took rest and then head an hour and a half to Bior's village of Kolynang. Up along the river nile in a land where cows are many and people are returning home after twenty years of war. We were welcomed at the Primary school but children running and laughing, so excited to see the return of their brother. Bior's brother Deng slaughtered a cow, this was done 20 feet away from me and a party was held in his honor.
oops computer glitches...gotta go.. check in later...

miss you all and have so much more to share :)

Saturday, May 24, 2008


Ok so getting to a computer hasn't been the easiest nor the most urgent task here in YEI. Travelling with 15 people doesn't lend a hand to speedy anything. Alas, here I am at a computer in Yei Town. I don't even know where to begin. My last entry came from London and seems like lifetimes ago. Southern Sudan is a place like no other I've experience nor will I ever experience. It has a life, a soul, a personality of it's own. Our school site is a little Oz admist the bush.
Our flight from Uganda to Yei took us over the Nile, a site Ana and I tried to capture with colored pencils in hand. With our heads against the window we looked in awe at the river we had only read about.
We landed in a green field welcomed by smiling faces and open arms. Travelling Logobara Rd. to the site was yet another experience. I'm not sure my stomach has ever gone through such a time and that says a lot for me. 14 kilometers down a road into the bush where you'd never believe anything could exist and like Dorothy reaching OZ, the NESEI School appears. It is incredible. I'm unable to post pictures at the moment but can't wait to share. The dining hall, the farm, the dorms, classrooms, kitchen where Gracie makes our meals of rice and beans, rice and beans and rice and beans. Yes, I've eaten a lot of rice and beans. Last night we had a going away feast at an Ethiopian Restaurant and never has food tasted so good!
Being here is humbling, inspiring, hard, but oh so good for the soul. I've seen the most beautiful faces, heard laughs of sheer happiness, felt the pain of carrying buckets and buckets of rock in the 90 degree sun and relief in making it safely to the end of a day. I've only been here 10 days and I've done so much. T
his posting is a demonstration of how fragmented my thoughts are. I don't know how to talk about the damn rooster who wakes me every day, or how I'm trying to "like" the latrines, or how to correctly hang a mosquito net or remember to take my malaria pill or keep a white shirt white by scrubbing it in my basin. All of these things are part of my surviving and thriving here and I love it. I do love Africa.

I will end by sharing an interesting experience last night that I will never forget. As 16 of us were preparing to sit down to dinner a television buzzed in the background and all of a sudden the words, "the world must come together as one. We are the world, we are the children, we are the ones to make a brighter place so let's start giving," blared. I turned around to see Michael Jackson, Willy and Bruce Springsteen singing in front of a Help Africa sign. I remember hearing this song at 4 years old. I couldn't believe that 28 years later I was in Africa listening to this song in a bar.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Act 1 Scenes 1 & 2

Cheers! It's true the journey has begun. At the moment Atem, Sasha, Emma and I are being hosted by Faith in London. We had a smooth ride from Burlington to NYC to London. A bit exhausted but sheer excitement in anticipation for our final destination.
Highlights thus far:
Atem was a superstar in JFK. The security guard recognized his last name Deng and asked," Did you write a book? " She was referring to What is the What? She is reading it and thought she'd found the famous author.

Ok London calls. I'll finish this entry in a bit.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Wow, what a weekend we've had. On Saturday NESEI held a fundraiser here in Burlington where we had the opportunity to see the progress made at the Yei school site, view the most recent NESEI film created by Lauren Servin and Silas Haggarty of Smooth Feather Productions but by far the most incredible part of the event and weekend for me was unveiling and welcoming Aduei Riak to the NESEI team.
It's hard for me to find the right words to describe how I feel about her. I will simply say with the words of Maya Angelou, "Phenomenally Phenomenal Woman"

I spent the weekend with Aduei hearing her stories, seeing pictures of her life and listening to the enthusiasm and passsion in her voice as she talked about bringing education to Southern Sudan. Her intelligence complements her stunning beauty and eloquent nature. She is a gift not only to NESEI but to me . It is in moments like this that I am moved to tears by human connection.
To read more about Aduei and her remarkable story check out: