Every time i plan for a trip like this, i feel stupid because most of the things that fill up my bags are not useful to the local people; they are mostly to protect myself from malaria and other tropical diseases. I am growing more and more selfish in a sense and this is because i am made to believe that my immune system is somehow compromised after living in the U.S. for 8 years and so there is justification to carry these little things with me all the time.
The trip i am taking is important because i am going to spend the second Christmas in twenty years with my family. I am excited about this because i never had real Christmas here in the United States. I know someone is going to call me a liar, but the reality is that Christmas in Sudan is more dramatic. They start celebrating Christmas almost in November in Sudan and by the time it gets to December festivities only increase. Youth and Sunday School choirs start to dance and sing Christmas carols. On Christmas Eve, soldiers march, Church congregations take to the streets to celebrate and there is so much singing and dancing that goes on.
This is the time of the year when you see different ethnic groups dancing and performing for the public mostly for free. People spend the whole Christmas Eve in the Churches till the White Sunday. Once they finished the church services, it is when the secular celebration of Christmas begins with a lot of Christmas parties. This is the time of the year when you can dress to perfection. New clothing fashion is always released at Christmas and young people show off in their new clothes.
While i get disappointed here in the U.S. for too little Christmas activities, I worry about too much Christmas back at home. I understand though, here in the U.S. Christmas day is usually cold and even if they offered to march on the street singing and dance, i would be unwilling to attend as an audience or a participant. Cold weather is usually happy with me when i stay inside.
My only concern though is that our people have been experiencing violence for the last 12 months with increased ethnic tensions. Instead of the usual ethnic Christmas performances, i might see instead, ethnic showdowns in a bad way. I hope our people will stop the violence and embrace Christmas with peace and the usual excitement that this season brings. I want the ululation of women and the sweet voices of children singing Christmas carol to be heard this Christmas and not the wailing and crying for the lost of love ones in an ethnic fight.
This trip is important for another reason, i am going to do a need assessment for our proposed community center and do an evaluation for our medical clinic which has been operating for two and half years. We hope to buy solar panels and install them in our clinic to provide power for refrigeration and lighting. On this trip, i am going to be meeting with potential partner organizations like BRAC and Hope of Sudan Alliance members to figure out how we can leverage our efforts to avoid duplication of services and to share knowledge to avoid reinventing the wheels every time. SUDEF will also try to solicit funding from UN organizations to meet our goals for next year.
My flight is tomorrow Tuesday December 15th from Burlington to Newark NJ. My international flight starts in Newark to Paris and from Paris to Nairobi where i will spend the night and resume my flight to Juba Southern Sudan the following day. I will spend few days in Juba before i head home to Minkamman where i will spend Christmas hopefully.
I want to conclude this post by inviting everyone to join our cause. We cannot promise to eradicate poverty in the whole world, but we can promise to bring hope in the lives of few people in Southern Sudan. Every single person or community we lift out of poverty is one person less hungry and desperate and that is why each person's contribution and involvement is needed and appreciated. Change begins with one person with a hope to bring change to all.
I will keep every body posted on this trip on our facebook page as well as on this blog, so come back for more.
Awolich de Nyuat