Tukuls and rock-strewn runways in Nasir, South Sudan
Living in Juba is great, but some days, it doesn’t feel hugely different from living in London. Hotter, yes. Dirtier, yes. Bottles of beer are a little bit cheaper (but not much). But it’s when you leave the city that you really feel you’re in a totally different environment.
We’re in the process of submitting a proposal to USAID for a Multi-Year Assistance Programme (MYAP) which would give us a lot of funding to carry out a big health and nutrition programme to help those children who need our help the most.
But before we ask for the money, we need to establish exactly what and where the greatest needs are. So Jerry (Director of Operations) and I took a plane up to Nasir, located in the Upper Nile area of South Sudan, to investigate health and malnutrition levels in the surrounding areas.
Together with a couple of World Vision staff (who we will work in partnership with on the MYAP), Jerry and I boarded a plane from Juba. Like many of the planes we take across Southern Sudan, this was a charter flight, so we four were the only passengers on board. In fact, the pilot removed the remaining four seats to save on weight.
The flight to Nasir was about an hour, but I got a bit of a shock when we came to land. You know when you approach an airstrip, you always look out the window to see exactly where you are going to touch down? Well, I do anyway. As we came closer to the ground, I still couldn’t see anything resembling a runway until I realized we were about three feet off the ground and were about to land on a rock-strewn piece of flat, open land in the middle of the town. A few bounces later and we’d come to a halt.
Stepping out of the wee plane we saw the Sobat River meandering before us.
The heat was oppressive, but a warm breeze coming across the water helped make us comfortable. On our way to the compound Save the Children is using, we saw evidence of one of this area’s main staples – fish.
Unsurprisingly the Sobat provides much of the food basket for the area; Nile Perch and catfish seem to jump out of the river almost willingly into the hands of local boys, who then fry them up in bubbling oil.
After dumping my bag in my Tukul – a hot home for the next four days – we went out for a walk to get our bearings. It was approaching sunset and many of the men and boys of the town were bathing along the riverbank.
After a delicious supper of fish, we went to bed.