Hey all I know it has been a long time since my last blog entry. Finding the time to get on the internet is hard, especially since how slow it can be in comparison to NZ and even Kenya. But anyway, here's the details on my last week and a half, have fun reading :)
Friday 20th Jan
I arrived in Juba after a fairly short flight from Nairobi with mum, fortunately our luggage weight wasn't an issue and we boarded the plane and passed through customs with ease. As soon as the plane door opened you could feel the heat. Juba is very hot and from first impressions very arid. It felt like I was stepping out into a slightly green middle east. We had to line up for visa stamping so we could go through and collect our bags, which were rummaged through in front of us to check we weren't bringing in something illegal to the country I guess. We were told by Marie that a man named Stanley would find us and drive us back to the Across base which is about 10 minutes from Juba Airport. Fortunately we didn't have to wait in the sun too long and we arrived at the Across compound by around 10:30am. Here we were met by the Across director Bernard (forgotten the last name) who kindly showed us around and introduced mum and I to some of the staff. After meeting all the staff and having lunch at 1 o clock mum and I had to wait in a hot room for the car to arrive which would take us to Yei. Fortunately it arrived around 3:30pm and we left along the bumpy road to Yei. It is about this point where I would include some photos but the internet is so slow it would take years for them to load, I will upload some to both the blog and Fb around March when mum and I will probably have our first holiday back in Nairobi. Anyway the journey. The road from Juba to Yei is a very interesting one. Full of potholes and large mounds, you have to be a skilled driver to navigate at speed without tipping the vehicle. Our driver was particularly skilled at such, we would reach up to about 100km/h on a pretty awful road. On the way you pass many small villages and locals including kids playing football, a couple of other notables were a burnt out tank on the roadside, a bus that looked like it had recently rolled and a goat tied to the top of a landcruiser, standing up, which was hilarious and I am pained to say I did not take a photo of. 3 hours after leaving Juba we were in Yei (around 6:30 pm). This evening we met many of the Across staff including Manny (who is the head of fly sports) and his wife Grace, and many others, which I do not have the time to go into detail about.
Saturday 21st Jan
Today I found a rat in my room and used the bathing room for the first time. If you think showering at Parachute is bad, try no shower at all, anywhere. The bathing room is a concrete room, quite small with a drainage hole in the corner at one end, the source of my rat problem which has since been resolved. That is literally all the room is, bare. In one corner you have a bucket of water and you use that plus whatever soap you buy to clean yourself. This may not sound very bad except for the fact that it becomes a bit of a mission day in day out when you are used to showering, not only that but the water is slightly dirty already, and when you are trying to clean your feet that look akin to what Jesus' disciples would have looked like then you can understand the inadequacy. You can never really be truly clean in Yei. My room as I found was lacking many things, all it had was two beds, one mosquito net, a chair and a large cupboard, plus some curtains. So in order to make life a bit easier I went out to the market with mum and Rhonda, a nice Dutch? lady who has been living in Yei with her Australian husband Rhys for a long long time. So long that she knows Yei better than many of the locals and can speak Arabic, English, Kakwa and a bit of Moru (The last two are major tribes in South Sudan). She taught mum and I some basic Arabic along the way as mum and I bought many things. We were the subject of much interest in the locals, especially myself, as I was wearing my Liverpool "Suarez" (Footballer) shirt. The kids would often call out "Suarez Suarez!". Football is VERY popular in Yei and almost everyone has a team they support. Life is very slow here which can be both a blessing and a curse to someone from a busy culture like NZ. It is really hot here and is generally in the mid to high 30s at the moment.
Sunday 22nd Jan
Sunday means Church. Except church with a difference, especially compared to the West. We were treated a bit like royalty which is not always nice because you want to just feel a part of them. Mum and I went to Immanuel's church where he preached. The service is supposed to start at around 10:30 but because we run on Africa time it started at at least 11am and ran until about 2pm, so yeah a bit longer than in NZ. We were officially welcomed by the church and leaders and not only that but considered a part of the tribe, like family. The service consisted of much prayer and singing with the preaching in Moru, translated into both Arabic for the majority of the Moru church who cannot speak their own language (something Immanuel is passionate about) and also into English for mum and I. In the afternoon we had lunch in town and bought a couple more items including a doormat, how lovely.
Monday 23rd Jan
Today was my first official day with orientation as to what FLY sports has been doing, how it started, etc. there is massive potential but I was a bit downcast about the amount of work that was needed doing (a lot). Played football for the first time in South Sudan and did better than I did in Kenya. The locals here, rather than play a game as such, play what they call 18 yard. Which is essentially just a game of football without goals inside the 18 yd box (goal box) where the objective is to just keep possession of the ball within your team. The Arabic I have been learning has been very useful and I am picking it up fairly quick. Immanuels daughter Naomi who is about 19months old has started calling me Joonana haha rather than the previous Jool. Felt really low in the evening and quite unhappy.
Tuesday 24th Jan
Today I felt as though I was at rock bottom, with a splitting headache and overwhelmed at Fly Sports' situation. Was given the day off by Manny (who is the same person as Immanuel btw if you were wondering). Felt a lot better by midday, I had a good talk with Dane (say hi to Liz if you are reading this Dane ;) ) who was a dude from the States who decided to come to South Sudan to investigate the possibility of coffee growing in the Nuba Mountains? or some mountainous place nearby as coffee is best grown at high altitudes where the temperature never goes below zero all year round. Dane left around 3ish in a car back to Juba. Godwilling he was to end up back in the States Friday, hopefully he got back safe. Planned to go back to work tomorrow. Still missing friends and family quite a lot.
Wednesday 25th Jan
Went back to work today after the previous day of rest. Sorted out my job description today with Manny and Elly who is the top dog for Across in Yei, I think. People's titles get lost on me here, there are so many. People love having titles. Today I also planned for a youth pre-season football tournament that will run off of zero funds (quite literally). This is because Fly sports currently have no funding (part of the reason for the previous day's despair I guess you could call it). So I am in charge of this tournament which starts on Monday the 6th of Feb. Today I used the internet for the second time but did not have the time to do a blog entry which I am now doing. Joined in with the older youth football prac. again. Moses took the youth practice (Moses is a guy slightly older than me who is not only a Man United fan (boo) but has worked with Fly Sports (FS)). Also of note: Liverpool knocked Man City out of the Carling Cup, yay.
Thursday 26th Jan
Not much to do today so I visited a town with Ruman (who also works with FS) and Manny, it was really quite peacefuly with a large steep rock formation to one side, this was of cultural or spiritual significance to locals so no one has ever been up it from what I gathered. Took some photos as I was allowed to do so. They will be on FB when I can put them on without having to wait hours and hours. We got back by lunchtime. On the way back I noticed some amusing signs of both sops and on cars. Such as "Arsenal Fans Conner", which was a shop name, "Jealousness is bad" and "Hang on, God is great Spares supplier". Football again in evening, Manny turned up at the end and explained to everyone about how I am now coaching them. And most of them are around my age or older. Gulp.
Friday 27th Jan
Morning devotions as usual, these start at 8:30am with singing then someone brings a previously prepared devotional, day was fairly uneventful. Evening involved football which I was nervous about as I was coaching for the first time in South Sudan. Most didn't show up until 6- 6:15, quite a while after the usual starting time of around 5:30. Language was a bit of a barrier as although most speak English they generally don't understand me because of my accent. Having Moses there helping out was a great as he is a local (Kakwa) and speaks both Arabic and English well. Taught them a few drills, to which they were reasonably quick to learn, considering the language barrier. There is a possibility that there may be two FS teams in the pre-season tournament although I will need Manny to sort that out. There's a lot of work to do in training still.
Saturday 28th Jan
Did a lot of shopping again today. Throughout the week I have been making a list of things to buy, today I got many of them including an electric fan which = happiness. This was such a good buy and has been great so far. Spent much of the afternoon after shopping playing games on mum's laptop. Ex-pats dinner in the evening, where I met many different people from different countries including Canada, The states, The Netherlands, Germany, The Philipines, England and Poland. Had some Western food which was really really nice. I mean don't get me wrong the local food is nice and all but after a while you start to crave stuff from home,even if it has only been three weeks since we were in NZ. Also worthy of note is that Liverpool knocked Manure out of the FA Cup 2-1 =)
Sunday 29th Jan
Went to Simone from Switzerland's church this week (Who works for Across also) as mum and I believe its important to have a good look around. The worship at first made me laugh as they use this backing track that wouldn't be out of place in some sort of club from the 80s. They had pumped the speakers up really loud so loud that it hurt. There was a very large amount of White Noise (not by Mogwai Jono)
so not cool. My room is looking like a total mess, o and this church service went from 10am til around 12:45. Spent afternoon at mum's and the evening at Simone's where mum normally has dinner. I normally have dinner with Manny and his wife and daughter. Power was very patchy in the evening for the first time. Normally it is on until midnight but lasted only until 10:15pm. Someone was using a bit too much electricity.
Monday 30th Jan
Today I got Manny to share what he shared with me about FS with mum so that she can help with funding applications since she did it in NZ. Mum was very inspired as was I about the prospect of FS and what it can accomplish. We worked on the budget for FS until around lunchtime. Had nothing to do until coaching in evening so watched a bit of TV at Manny's. He has some sport channels which has been great and I am welcome to come any time which is a bonus. Football training in the evening where I saw Moses and obviously gave him a bit of grief about Liverpool's Triumph over United. There are a few players with a lot of talent that I am coaching. They just need to put in more effort in training. I badly want a mini fridge because things go off very quickly and nothing satisfies here quite like a cup of cold water.
Tuesday 31st Jan
Last day of Jan, 1 month down, 10 and a half to go. Still a long way to go yet. This morning after getting a photo with Manny and his family for our newsletter I went with him (Manny) to meet the Bishop of Yei. The Bishop is highly respected and somewhat a position of power, anyway this has taken me about 2 hours to type up and I'm late for the 1 o clock lunch.Today its really hot, blue skies outside and I badly need to get home and get a drink, drinking lots is essentially, anyway I hope life in NZ or wherever you are in the world is going good. Good luck for the following school/ Uni year guys and gals in NZ. Also feel free to ask some questions about Yei if you want. JoelNZ Out. ;)