Three weeks in...

Jenny_2010 Posted by Jenny Bell on Fri, 25 Mar 2011 | 1 comments | Bookmark: digg this Post this to Post this to Facebook

The papaya tree outside our row of rooms looks very pretty outlined against the night sky. The minimal artificial lighting means that the multitude of stars are clearly visible. There is a peacefulness in the evening, with the sound of crickets and happy voices floating down from the Congolese refugees, here studying at Yei Vocational Training Centre (and living in tents). Dusk falls about 7pm so we are often eating supper outside on our porch after dark.

It was a relief to have our first rain yesterday. The dry season runs from January through March and so I arrived at the hottest time of year, in a particularly hot year. I found it quite striking to realise that the environmental 40+C temperatures are above normal body temperature! No wonder it takes some adjusting to. I chuckled to myself first thing this morning when I actually had goosebumps when the temperature was 27 C! The slightly cooler nights have helped facilitate falling asleep and I’m now used to sleeping with a mosquito net. The ripening mangoes on a tree beside the house can mean sudden thumps on the roof in the night.

A week ago we made an overnight trip to Juba (capital of South Sudan) for a health meeting – 3 1/2 hours of bumping along on the dirt road, sitting sideways in the back of the 4×4. But the bliss of a night sleeping in air conditioning…!! And it’s hard to describe just how wonderful a hot bucket ‘shower’ feels after being caked with dust and sweat – it’s simply divine.

On Thursday the mobile clinic is being evaluated by the donor (BSF) so, in addition to a village trip, that will involve a dinner with the visiting consultants on Wednesday. On Wednesday a number of our staff will attend a management training day that John is running along with a friend, Malcolm (an ex Banker from Winchester), who has been here for the week. John and Poppy have also had another visitor this past week, Jane Corbett who has a longterm interest in Sudan and association with CMS Ireland.

My little house is almost ready; today the wooden frame for mosquito netting for the bed was erected. As rainy season approaches (and many more mosquitoes with it), I think I am going to love my screened-in porch! Now I’m just waiting for my 2 trunks to make it to Yei via MAF, as I’ve realised my (new) mosquito net (thanks Widcombe Surgery!) is in one of them.

I now have a (photo) Sudanese driving licence! I took the 4×4 by myself for the first time today to do various errands and managed not to get lost and not to get stuck in any ruts in the road.

I continue to enjoy Tabitha – a young German woman who grew up in Ethiopia and is currently teaching on health topics in the villages via the mobile clinic; she’s here until May/June. It’s been great to share cooking with her and Sheila, an American nurse who is here for a month (leaves 7 April), when she hopes to return to the more unsettled area of Upper Nile State. They’ve enjoyed a couple of my lentil recipes, I’ve enjoyed a chocolate cake Tabitha made, and we all dream of having cheese to supplement our vegetarian diet! It’s a challenge to have enough protein and dairy products. Oh, but an exciting culinary note is that the fridge freezer in my new home seems to work well! We 3 join 1 to 4 other expats for aerobics outside from a laptop three evenings a week so dinner gets rather late those evenings. And I try to go for a short run every other morning.

Your prayers are appreciated for:
- the last few days with John and Poppy (leaving 29th March); absorbing all I need to and finding time to go over the essentials

- good beginnings with the staff; much wisdom especially in initial conversations. Several more HCAs (Health Care Assistants) from the Martha Clinic (i.e. our clinic in Yei) have just heard that they can start in government-funded further training programs (as opposed to places where we have found funding for them). However this is going to leave more staffing holes – i.e. more interviews and hiring necessary. The Sudanese staff need to be taking on more of the management of these issues but it’s somewhat tricky as these are early days for me in relationships with them. One of the senior clinical people in particular has much to learn about managing staff.

- taking on all the various facets of the work – the Martha Clinic, the clinic in Lainya, over an hours’ drive away – probably need to visit once a week, the mobile clinic (with clinical and educational functions), the eye work (again, the donor is coming to inspect the work in early April), the children’s ward, the logistics of ordering medications from Kampala and getting them here, liaising with the various organizations that help in different ways (eg County Health Dept, other NGOs, etc). I am looking forward to getting more involved clinically (and teaching) but I need to ensure that everything else is more or less functioning first! There is lots of scope for improvement in clinical care but I think it will be key to have built some relationships first.

- getting settled in my new home; getting into a routine of pumping water from the bore hole (that plus carrying the jerry cans is great for upper body strength!), shopping in the market, etc

- Skype functioning well to have decent phone calls with my sons Daniel and Jonathan

- a summer job for Jonathan and a permanent position for Daniel




Jane Corbett said Sat, 26 Mar 2011 09:28PM
Hi Jenny, it was so good to meet you last week and I will write at length directly in a few days. Have been both busy and tired since I got home on Wednesday and have been delivering letters and greetings, to our Bishop and many other friends of Maridi and Yei. My love to Tabitha and Sheila - assure them of my prayers and I hope to hear good news about their plans soon. God Bless, keep safe and continuing prayers as you take the reins of the medical work. With love Jane PS Enjoyed your blog and remember when we both realised we were cold at 27 C !!

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