South Sudan: Return to Juba

CAFOD Senior press officer Nana is in South Sudan, which became the world’s newest nation on 9 July 2011.

Pray and act for peace in South Sudan >>

The last time I was in South Sudan, it was preparing for independence.

Seven months on, and I am back with a British journalist who wants to see how the new country is faring, and how the money going into the country from aid agencies and the UK government is being used.

As we fly into Juba, the only other aircrafts I see are UN and World Food Programme planes. There is no national airline carrier.

As I walk into the small makeshift airport terminal, I spot a poster exclaiming; ‘The Republic of South Sudan – a growing nation’.

South Sudan is indeed growing but still has a long way to go.  There is so much to do here: roads, hospitals, schools and people’s basic needs such as providing food and clean water all need to be met.  It can seem overwhelming.

Our luggage arrives on the back of a tractor trailer and with no conveyor belt available, airport workers line up in front of us and do the job the old-fashioned way, handing luggage from one to another towards a cleared area for passengers.

Inevitably, the weary travellers start jostling and shoving to the front when they spot their bags with cries of ‘excuse me, excuse me, that one is mine’.  It is a chaotic scene.

Beads of sweat cover the shaven head of a young man and individual tributaries start winding their journey down his forehead. I see his hands clasping my faithful green suitcase and prepare to transport it down the line.

As if to stop me in my tracks from joining the ‘excuse me’ chorus, he looks up at me and with a beautiful beaming smile, calmly says: ‘your bag will reach you’.

The steely patience of that human conveyor belt gives one hope that the people of this war-torn nation are prepared, willing and able to somehow make their ‘growing nation’ work.

Pray and act for peace in South Sudan >>

Give it up for clean water this Lent >>

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Filed under Africa, CAFOD, South Sudan

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