Diary of an Adventure

Juba Adventures

As you would expect, given the complexity of our programs and the nature of the country, we have a gazilion moving parts in various dimensions of quicksand. Some can be solved by taking small steps through the minefields, while others need crazy thinking. Until, the landscape shifts again and everything you planned, or thought was sorted, is made irrelevant. Only being here for five minutes between trips adds to the craziness as everything is contracted into timeless that are ridiculous.

With my mail dominated by the killing of the Peace Keepers in Jongelei and the impact of ensuring the security of my staff working on the Pibor airfield, being woken by fish eagles was extra special.

Good news is that in Lakes State where we built a number of schools that had a strong community participation component, the communities have built additional class rooms using the same design, have reduced the dropout of girls from the schools to almost zero, and in a couple of cases, girls who had been promised in marriage have had their cattle ‘bride price’ returned by their fathers and allowed to return to school. In one school, they even have a female head teacher, the first we know of in South Sudan. All this in less than a year.

An interesting aspect to the meeting with the project team on a three day training program, was the cohesive nature of the group. The barriers between project and support staff, and the ‘siloing’ of activities that has been a problem didn’t exist. A common understanding of how they are each affected by one of them not fulfilling their roles, as well as having a common framework within which to communicate seems to have had a dramatic impact on their relationships.

I know this is in a comfortable relaxed atmosphere, out of the daily grind and pressure of the field, but some of the interpersonal relationships, as well as an entrenched culture, were a serious issue, and to see how much this has changed is certainly worth taking note of. Far more impactful than any Team Building.

Will be interesting to see the impact of this on the projects performance!

Awake early trying to get all the bits in place before I leave later for Stockholm. At least I hope to be able to leave, as they are closing the roads and the airport for the visit to Juba of the Sudanese President, Bashir. I have packed a light bag, with most of the weight my fathers winter coat, in case I need to walk to the airport!

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