On Christmas Eve we always go to church – it’s the best day of the year to go to church because of the stories, the songs and the Christmas spirit… This year I never really got in the mood for Christmas. This year I cried in church for all my friends and all the other people of South Sudan. This year’s Christmas has been characterized by helplessness and ineptitude. This coming New Years eve I might be crying again as the sound of rockets reminds me of the small war that was going on outside my windows just one and a half week ago! But now I’m home, where my family and friends want me – in safety. Feeling useless. And a little bit fat because I ate too much candy 😉
Here’s a short movie about the Christmas for some people in South Sudan: An unforgettable Christmas
This blog is not about what happened/happens in South Sudan. Google the news and there’s plenty of that already. Google ‘DR Nyhedstimen’ from December 20th if you’re Danish and you’ll find me halfway in! Use Ecosia as a search engine and plant some trees.
Monday morning my boss called me and told me to stay home from work. Grounded! Few minutes after the shooting outside went berserk and throughout the morning heavier artillery was added. I gave tea to the guards at our compound, who couldn’t be relieved by new guards even if they’d been there all night – they weren’t until Wednesday noon and practically didn’t get any sleep! Anyways, we filled up the water tank, locked the doors and stayed inside. Tried to work. Did not succeed. Moved to my boss’ house where the house arrest continued. At least he had beers and some more food than we had in our house. But all our evacuation kits, which are supposed to contain food for emergencies, had been eaten up by what I guess to be previous staff, who were just hungry. Tsk. Not very smart, when an emergency actually occurs.
My local colleague and his family moved into our staff house because their own home was in the middle of the crossfire. The mom told me that the kids were finally playing again. After two days where they had just been sitting scared on the floor of their home listening to the bullets they were able to play and smile again. That made me happy!
Twitter, beer, baking bread. Joking about not making it home for Christmas. That was more or less my 2,5 days in house arrest. Very boring moments in a very exciting place.
Wednesday the airport opened up again after it had been closed since Sunday. See, closing the airport is a problem, when they also choose to close the only road out of Juba. That means you’re completely stuck in the city. Where soldiers are shooting and killing each other and seemingly quite a lot of civilians as well. So when the airport opened everyone wanted to get out. The road to the airport was alive with people after all life in the city had stopped Monday and Tuesday. Unfortunately we also saw a dead man just lying in the street trash with 20 people just standing and staring at the body. We also heard rumours of truckloads of dead bodies being dumped in mass graves. At this point I was quite happy to almost be out of the city.
We chartered a flight to take me and my colleagues out, which ended up as quite an adventure I must say, as we could only get hold of a cargo flight. We rang and ran around trying to get 30 other people with us, since the flight was massive and very expensive, but we really wanted to get home. So did a lot of other people so we managed to fill up the cargo – with people of course! After standing as sardines in a tin for hours in the airport security check (Juba is already one of the worst airports in the world!), sweating with fear and frustration that we might not make the flight in time (and because it was probably like 40 degrees), we finally got the whole group through. Then climbed a step ladder into the apparently ancient cargo flight and sat down 30 something people on the floor.
One woman cried as we took off. Out of relief I guess. Though fear would have been justified too… Flying as cargo is one of the weirder experiences in my life. Being evacuated was unexpected. My friend picked me up in Copenhagen airport the day after with a pair of socks and a good cup of coffee. Good friend. Survival.
Love, Peace & Harmony!
HAPPY NEW YEAR