Monday, November 27, 2006

Donkey Boy

This is how water is transported from the wadi (river) to our office, when the 'city water' runs dry (which is most of the time). This water is for the shower, for cooking, and to be boiled and filtered for drinking.


When you want to rent a car in a village with only one car to rent...

Hygiene training with a group of women, talking about how to look after children with diarrhoea, one of the primary causes of mortality for under 5s.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

It's all strangely normal

My daily life is plodding along in a strangely normal sort of way here in Darfur, though of course I know there have been a number of attacks on IDPs recently, not so far from here. The coordination meetings have focused on what we can do, and how we can access those areas which are often out of bounds security-wise for all the NGOs. So there’s a lot of work. Life is busy. The weeks fly by and already it’s Thursday afternoon again – the weekend.
But it’s hard to know what to write as my environment doesn’t quite evoke the same feelings in me as it did at the beginning. I drive around town, rush from one thing to the next, and everything I see is starting to look pretty familiar. As we drive past various armed vehicles, I practice identifying them, and say to the driver ‘Chadians?’, or ‘JJs?’, or ‘Government?’ or ‘Police?’. Or even, the lesser known, ‘JJ police?’ I’m starting to get the hang of it. There are still mysteries of course, like why do soldiers wear those red berets? And often you see groups of armed men walking along the street together, all with Kalashnikovs slung over their backs, all wearing different uniforms, or just normal clothes.

The mornings are chilly and the cold shower is an ordeal that now has to be planned into my day, rather than appreciated, as it was before. The best time is just after work when the water is still warm-ish from the day’s heat. I am discovering small luxuries, like a local chocolate biscuit called Kiko, which I am currently devouring between every meal. I am also trying to create a little garden in the courtyard next to my room – I have been digging away in the sandy soil, trying to sift out the biggest stones. I’ve planted watermelon seeds and sunflower seeds (just what was available here). Now I am watering hopefully and frequently, but so far nothing has appeared.

I’m still learning odd bits of Arabic and chatting away in simple disjointed phrases. After lunch I make coffee and practice writing in charcoal on the concrete next to the kitchen, and the cooks laugh and correct me.

The Sufis have been noisy recently, I hear them singing and chanting at night. They sound like the wander round the streets, but I don’t know exactly where they congregate, and from the safety of my compound, after curfew time, I can’t go out to find them and see what’s happening. They start chanting repetitively at about 10pm, and go on till late. One night they were singing non-stop until 7am, which initially was interesting and atmospheric, but soon became a bit tedious really. I’m going to ask around, and see if I can visit them.