Trip to Sudan (on Mission with Swiss Red Cross)
Farewell to my children
On this 17th day of April 2021, I took on a trip to Sudan (Harare- Addis- Khartoum) via Ethiopian Airways. At the airport in Harare, I realized that my children could not enter with me, we had to bid farewell in the car park, surely Covid-19 had changed things. My children showed that they get strong each time I leave and none of them cried, rather they were looking forward that I would be back in June and like this we would spend again quality time together. By the way I was going to Sudan on an almost 2year contract with the Swiss Red Cross as WASH Advisor for North and West Kordofan states.
In the 1st leg flight
For some reason someone announced that the flight would stopover in Lusaka – I must admit I was like, ohhh, I thought this was direct to Addis, turned out that it was a wrong announcement and as we took off and I looked at the map, I realized I was indeed on way to Addis. It can be quite lonely up there, I had no book to read, - usually I carry a book with me, and I had no neighbor. Anyways flight was on time I had few songs to listen to and quite some napping.
I found a dichotomy between the social distancing precautions aboard the plane and the chaotic long immigration ques at Addis airport, never mind the dirty carpets. I was going to sleep over in Addis – Skylight Hotel, where a 1st class welcome note awaited me.
I should admit that my hotel room was one of the most comfortable ones I ever slept. It was so worth my sleepover. The next morning, I met with Mike (he happened to be in Addis, and we would not miss a chance to be together) and we had breakfast together and well, this would hopefully be a good birthday for him – short and sweet!
2nd leg flight
I took my flight to Khartoum with 2 things on my mind in fact 3,
1. How will I survive without alcohol?
2. How really am I expected to dress up, and would my hair not offend them?
3. Would I cope with the heat?
In any case I decided I would enjoy a glass of wine and keep it in my head that its memories can last as long I am in Sudan. I also found myself listening repeatedly to one song – “Love out loud” by Gamma Skies, and I was wondering if I am at wrong place at the right time - to be seen.
I had been forewarned that I should expect delays in luggage and indeed this took its time. The driver was readily waiting for me and I could spot him from a distance. One old man found a way to forcefully push my luggage trolley to the car and of course he needed some SDG which I did not have, thanks to driver who covered up for me – they always come in handy the drivers. At the house I also found a handwritten note from my country coordinator (in addition to the welcome letter),
and how nice it felt. I took on my nap and later had dinner with colleagues at a Lebanese restaurant – delicious food.
I must admit that Khartoum has a lot of tall buildings and quite some dusty pavements and streets. Electricity supply is erratic and sometimes the sounds of generators can be a nuisance.
Its always nice in a new country to create a circle of people to hang around with and do small things as getting to know the grocery shops, but the temptation can be to keep to oneself. My friend Jan (from NL) is often encouraging, let us say even pushing me to meeting with other people and this time around I was forced/pushed to what would end up a good meet. It is crazy how the world around me often winds up to people with different but similar stories, similar but different thinking, I had fun over a light diner with: -
- A cyclist WASH woman, she thought I could be the president of the world
- A WASH single mum, just as me never comfortable being in one place
- A WASH colleague, with whom we had communication before and worked on a similar role, “ohh, this is the Placidia?”, the world so short.
We laughed over how young we looked, how dare one of us had a grandchild and wondered how we could make water sanitation and Hygiene an interesting area of work.
In the end my trip to Sudan happened and here I found myself having to accept that I will have to go through this mission and see what I could bring to the Red Cross/Crescent, the people and most importantly for myself. Watch out in the next blogs about my experiences.