Saturday, December 31, 2005

There are Solutions to Most Problems!

The day before Christmas Eve I went with Alessandra, Silvia and Charlotte to Meroe and the pyramids to celebrate our christmas in the desert. I thought I would miss Sweden, but I didn't, at least not much, and we had a fantastic weekend exploring the pyramids, running barefoot in the sand dunes and riding camels. On the 24th Haidar and Annelise joined us with blinking santa hats and lime. Christmas eve was celebrated on the terasse overlooking the pyramids, with wine and crisps and dance. After having spoken to the whole family, and half of my relatives, my christmas was perfect, if not a bit unusual.

We also visited the town of Shendi (where we were recieved as queens), Musawwarat (ruins from the Kushit period), Naqa (more ruins) and the 6th cataract of the Nile (wonderful small place, but incredibly pain in the ass with assaulting locals from everywhere that wanted to help us with this or that and get money for it).

This is the country that has been called hell on earth. Here is todays worst humanitarian catasroph according to the UN. Thousands are dying every day of starvation, malaria, yellow fever, lack of fluid and dhiorrea. It's ugly and hot and dirty. I'm never clean, no matter how often I shower. My money are disappearing, so is my work contract. But I want to stay. I have wonderful friends here that take care of me when it's storming too much. I feel like a baby sister in the family and they want me to stay. Everything back in Sweden will still be there in a few months, so I feel that I'm in no hurry to get home just yet. My time here in Sudan is something that I have to take care of, for me and for my future. I know that it's not good to run away from your problems forever, but I feel that I've already come so far. I have learned things about myself that I didn't know before. I can take care of myself. I'm even pretty happy, after all.

But enough about feelings and boring stuff. Me, Charlotte and Alberto among others are going to a pool party in the Dutch Embassy. There are rumours saying that the police has gotten instructions of storming all parties on new year, even those with foreigners, so I believe it's best to stick to the diplomat parties (no matter how boring that sounds).

I've been a bit sick lately, with some mysterious infection in my blood. I'm on my second round of antibiotics now, and I feel a bit better now even though I'm still tired. I'm just happy that I haven't gotten malaria yet, which is some miracle considering that I'm bad at spraying myself and always comes home with 20 mosquito bites at night. Maybe it's just the kind mosquitoes that likes me?

Pssst. I braided my hair. So if the Sudanis didn't love me before, they definitely do now! Everyone want to touch it, points at my hair and my nose ring and call me "Sudani! Sudani!". And I smile and reply: "Aywa, khawajia sudani!" and then they laugh like crazy and loves me even more ; ) The man inte the internet café has told his whole family about me and is literally demanding a photo of me so that he can show his nieces. The alternative is to go with him home and say hi to his wife and kids. I don't know though... it feels like I have enough sudanese friends at the moment. My hands are full all the time, always something to do, someone to meet!

Quotation of the week: "Coffee machines are sexual objects." Silvia about the capuccino machine.

Latest purchase:
Microphone to my MD. A yellow maxi skirt. A knife.

The lack of money, that my card reader to the camera is broken, boys and the future.

Newest aquintances:
My collegue Khalid and his friend Hani (isn't that a cute name?!).

1)I'll get a new sibling! 2)I will get my package from Sweden, whenever Mr. Björn decides to come back to wonderful Khartoum. 3)The chaos will be GONE! 4)I want to get out in the field. Rather Juba!

: When Alessandra's camel started to run and she was jumping up and down, new internal jokes from the desert, to whisper to Sudanese friends that "that woman" (pointing at a friend) "is not married!", that an aid worker in Somalia got eaten by a crocodile.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Sudanese Christmas

Is it really christmas? It's had to even imagine cold here in Sudan. Sure, it's winter here too, but not exactily anything compared to the Swedish one.

The week has been calm. I've been in the office and started my English course for the local staff. I guess it's going pretty well considering I have no experiencing in how to plan and set up classes for grown ups. Maybe I'm simply a natural! ; ) My boss was actually very impressed when he glanced through my notes, so I suppose I should be happy with that.

For those of you who are still worried about the situation here: everything is fine and it seems like things have calmed down. I don't even think they're bugging my phone anymore. So, don't worry - be happy!

I don't have anything special planned for christmas. I had a thought of traveling abroad, but I don't have anough money for that at the moment. So instead me, Alessandra, her sister SIlvia and Charlott will go for a two day trip to the pyramids in Meroe. So while you're sitting and watching Disney shown on Christmas Eve, I'll probably be gazing at the African sunset behind the old Kushit capital, or maybe I'm on a camel back, flying through the sand dunes of Sahara.

Sunday, December 4, 2005

Chaos, Persecution and Mine Clearance

This past week has been eventful, to say the least. I'll try to make a very long story short. Let's start from last Wednesday:

Woke up and was ill, fever and pain everywhere. I stayed in bed until my employer's daughter got home from school, helped her with homework and waited for the employer to come home. Things have been tense between us lately. We have different thoughts and ideas about things that are important to agree on when you have a more or less depressed 14 year old to take care of. He's focusing on her school results while I try to make her feel better. I have been the only one she talks about everything to and we have gotten very close, which has lead to that her father has gotten jealous (my own choice of word).

So, he got home and first asked if I had had any problems with the police or military. I said no, because I hadn't. Then he asked if I had been persecuted, threatened or assaulted. Then I said no too, because I haven't. He then said that the security police (the men in light blue military uniforms, kalashnikows and evil looks that do what they want with whoever they want) had been to the office and asked things about me, who I am, what I'm doing here and so on. If I hadn't been under the protection of the Red Cross they would guaranteedly bring me in, but since the organization has some kind of immunity, they didn't.

They know who I am, where I go during the days and who I'm hanging out with. I have no idea why they're interested in me. Maybe because I have Sudanese friends (and Sudanese people shouldn't mix with westerners, for God knows what kinda ideas they would get then!) or because I've said something they don't like in the street. Somebody calmed me down and said that they seem to do some random check up on all foreigners, but it's scary anyways. I have the Sudanese version of the KGB tailing me! But on the other hand, maybe I should feel honored. I mean... how many of you have been trailed and bugged in a police state? ; )

After that conversation I got fired. He said that things doesn't work out, which he was absolutely right about, but i regret that I didn't have the time to say "I quit!" before he did. I packed my stuff, got picked up by Haidar and moved over to La Familia. And there I was alone (everyone else in the house was out in the field), without money, no valid visa, no work permit, no stay permit and no work. I wanted to stay, but the only things I had was fever and a ticket to Stockholm. What shall Maria do now?!

I got my thumb out and made a last huge effort, polished my CV and pride and went to the DCA (Danish Church Aid) where, thanks to my dear Lennart, had some contacts that I've previously been too proud to contact. I didn't want to get a job with help from someone from home, but there I was. I met John Shearer, that had to act like my therapist for a while. He contacted the organizations PM who was currently in Nuba but agreed to meet me the next night before he left to someplace else.

I was still a little ill and got a gum inflammation which kept me alert the whole time (thanks for that) and decided that a couple of beers would probably heal me, so again, I went to a UN-party.

Went to DCA to meet the PM, Bob, who (halleluljah!) offered me a short term payed job in the office while the English speaking personell were out of country for christmas. He also asked me to think of if I would be interested in going on Mine Clearence Training. And I was like "OH MY GOOOD! OF COURCE!". I mean, it can't be much more humanitarian to clear mines?

The tooth kept me awake whole night and when morning came i was grumpy and tired, got dumped (well almost) for the first time in my life and took a raksha home to continue being grumpy. I slept a few hours before Björn finally got home from Zanzibar. One more hour without releasing my hysteria and I had... uhm... probably have done something bad.

And now?
Well, I have a room in the house with La Famila, I can afford to pay for it and work for at least another month. My gum is slowly healing, but instead I suspect that I've got a throat infection.
Today I went to the DCA and I'm now waiting for the big OK from Copenhagen so that I can start working. I will not have much to do in the office really. My main task is to teach English to the local staff and help with whatever office duties there is.

Right now everything is a bit crazy and I have mixed feelings about everything. I'm happy that i got the job and can stay for a while longer.