I know its been a long time since my last entry but didn't realise it had been more than 2 months! Sorry about that I often don't have the motivation to sit down and do a blog entry since it takes so long to do.
So all the way back to the 29th of May, I think thats where I finished?
The week of 28th May was largely filled with football. I went for another run in the morning to continue from what I had been doing in Jinja and before I left for Jinja, while in Yei. On the 31st we had a football game in the competition I'm playing in. I was left quite frustrated as I was benched almost the entire game and came on right at the very end, into stoppage time. As soon as I arrived onto the pitch the ref blew the full time whistle, much to the amusement of the crowd.
The week after that I went to Harvesters to meet with Dr. Jeff Perry about the possibility of helping out at the hospital, I hoped to start helping there shortly after but as it turned out I didn't start until the 10th of July! This was because of a breakdown in communication between senior Across staff and Harvesters. The day after we were allowed to return to the Across football ground for our training which was hugely pleasing. The ground was a lot worse than when I first arrived in Yei and a bit like the awful pitch at Freedom Square (which wasn't a bad thing). The kids team which I had been training earlier in the year were still practicing there and I found that one of the kids who had earlier been excluded was starting to become more confident and included more which really felt amazing. After Wednesday's training we sat down and had a discussion about our previous match (adult team in which I am playing) because the day after we had our next match. In this discussion one of the senior players commended me for my attitude at being willing to come off the bench in the last minute of the game, when many would refuse to. I certainly wasn't expecting this and to say I was surprised was an understatement. The next day we took to the field with confidence and absolutely decimated the other team 7-0 which apparently is a record in Yei. I scored once and assisted twice and could have had more of both, but for being robbed by linesman, referee, pitch and the seldom poor finishing of a teammate. Our fourth game (I missed the first one while in Jinja) was sadly postponed early in July due to the inter-primary football competition taking precedence over ours. Unsurprisingly there was a lack of communication between sporting groups. Our team ended up training in Freedom Square and myself and another player took practice penalties while a large crowd watched on.
Many of the Across workers that live on the compound were interested in the Euro football tournament (mainly males) which Spain eventually won. We managed to watch much of it on the compound TV and there was a lot of banter going on between the workers and genders, especially at the semi finals and final level. Things like this make life in Yei a lot more bearable, although I know there are people out there living tougher than I am, I find I need some comforts.
Speaking of comforts, the following day some things our church sent us arrived, including jaffas, jet planes, etc. It was very exciting to get some kiwi lollies. Thanks guys! However mum's shampoo lid broke in the bag and wrecked about half the jaffas. Very disappointing.
A shortwhile later I began coaching the Fly Sports kids team again. Some have left and gone to other areas of the country, others have joined adult teams or other kids teams so there were some new faces. I have been making them work hard, forcing them to do push-ups if they are late, because fit teams are winning teams as far as I've seen in the football in Yei. We also received the exciting news around that time that Manny's church had sent some funding to us so we could continue and so that Manny could stay until the end of the year. We have broken down the funding into different areas of spending and are hoping to go to his hometown of Mundri in Eastern Equitoria (Yei is in Central Equitoria) to run some workshops and a kids league there. We are planning to do this not long after I return to South Sudan (in a couple of days).
Another thing to note is that I have started taking Arabic (Juba) lessons. I have had about 12 so far and have learnt an enormous amount of words. I can hold some reasonable but small conversations with people and have learnt a few words for use in the market, etc. All in all I have learnt several hundred words at least and am enjoying learning for 6 hours each week (2 hour lessons, 3 times a week). My language tutor seems to be both impressed and pleased at the rate in which I am picking up the language, the only thing is that by the time I leave I will have learnt a fairly sizable amount of the language which I may never use again, or will use seldom, regardless I still want to continue with it.
Now I mentioned a couple of blogs back about this boy Peter who I was planning to pay for schooling for and how he never showed up. Well towards the end of June Manny had some visitors after lunchtime who turned out to be Peter and his grandmother, we talked and decided we would immediately go to one of the primary schools and I would pay for his schooling until the end of the year, uniform and some of the stationary needed. I said to Peter that my condition of doing so was that he always goes to school and that he comes to the Fly Sports kids trainings as he enjoys football and I felt like it would be a good idea to get him to become a part of the team. I didn't see him for a few trainings until one day he turned up when it was hugely wet and the kids and I ended up just kicking the ball round and having a lot of fun actually. He turns out to be quite a good footballer but unfortunately I havent seen him since then because YTTC started grading the pitch again which meant I could no longer use it to train the kids. I am hoping that when I return I will be able to train them once or twice and organise for someone else to coach them while I am away (if I go to Mundri with Manny).
The 9th of July was the South Sudanese Independence Day celebrations and mum and I went into Freedom Square with the principal of YTTC to watch. We got seated in fairly well to do official area and were sitting close to some parliament members. The day was well organised with lots of marching from schools, groups and the YTTC band. In the afternoon they had lots of cultural dancing from many different tribes in the same ground. The day after was announced as a public holiday by the president also, although many people still worked. That afternoon I was a part of the UN volleyball team who had a game against the Yei Sports Commission, who basically just stacked their team with the best vollyballers they could find in Yei, two of which were from YTTC (Yei Teacher Training College which mum is working with). Understandably we got annihilated by a bunch of 6 foot 2 inch + guys who could jump what seemed like meters into the air.
The day after I started feeling unwell after my Arabic lesson and slept for two hours missing lunch to wake up with a fever. That night it developed into dizziness and diarrhea which, among a couple of other minor symptoms meant malaria. The next morning I was taken to Harvesters hospital (ironically I was meant to be going there for work that day anyway) and had my temperature (39.1 degrees) and blood pressure (58 over 46) taken. As soon as I stood up to be weighed I basically fainted because of the lack of blood making its way to my head (low blood pressure). Immediately I was started on an IV drip and over the next 24 hours was fed about 4 Litres of fluid Intravenously, 1.5L of which were laced with quinine, a horribly strong drug used to cure malaria in bad cases. The next day I returned home and vomited up to of the quinine tabs they had given me as I had taken it without food which is a big no no when quinine is involved. That night I had almost no hunger and managed to struggle down a very small amount of food and my quinine tabs. The next day I started feeling a lot better and slowly I began to recover. However I lost a lot of fitness and haven't regained it back since. I also lost 3kgs in the 6 days I had malaria which dropped me to 68.5 kg, about the lightest Ive been in 2 years. The quinine also causes you to become very tired and weak muscularly so I didnt shake that off until about a week later. The quinine also gives you a ringing in your ears like you've been in a South Sudanese church for several hours (or a rock concert).
The Australasian crew in Yei is now picking up as Katherine arrived from NZ on the 20th/21st of July to help at Harvesters hospital (she's a nurse) which was hugely needed as Dr. Perry works extremely hard and long hours. Another family have also arrived to help at the hospital from Australia so there will be a bit of kiwi/Aussie banter at the next Pioneers member meeting in Yei, notably about the olympics.
On the 27th of July mum and I arrived in Nairobi to an awesome pizza dinner after a trip that was fairly less eventful than last time and with thankfully far fewer problems. The next day consisted of a trip to Nakumatt to buy also sorts of goodies like chips, rubbishy cereals and dairy products :D. Before mum and I went on safari on Thursday the 2nd of August we enjoyed a fairly lazy week and a trip into Nairobi central on the bus, past the Forest where the Kenyan Secretary of Finance? Defense? died in a helicopter incident (which is still under investigation) and also past a building in town which had a bomb go off in it not too many weeks ago. The city centre is a rather bustling and busy place and quite a contrast to typical Africa.
On Thursday the 2nd we were picked up by our safari tour guide from Stu and Maree's house in Karen, Nairobi which was nice, we then met up with the other 3 people who were to join us on the trip. This included a couple from Poland in their mid 20s and a 21 year old guy from London who shared similar musical and sporting interests to myself. Our talking took up a majority of the 4 and a half hour drive from Nairobi to the Maasai Mara while the others basically slept. That afternoon after a late lunch we did our first drive through a small section of the park, seeing zebra, wildebeest, jackals, buffalo, giraffes, elephants, many types of gazelle and deer and a bit of birdlife, among some other animals I've probably forgotten to mention. The next day we did a full days drive and saw (on top of yesterday) a family of lions including a male lion, 3 or 4 lionesses and at least 4 young cubs. We also sort warthogs, hippos, crocodiles, a serval cat (which are rare) and several vultures in different locations picking at the carcass of different wildebeests killed by lions. We were disappointed to not see any cheetahs, rhinos or leopards as we had been searching (mainly for cheetahs) for a good portion of the day. The next morning (our last day) we did a short morning drive where we excitingly found 2 cheetahs together. We took our fill of photos before calling in the find to the other safari tour guides as we made our get away before about 20 vans screamed up to the spot to get their paying customers a view of the cheetahs. This was about as amusing to us as the incredibly enormous camera and lens wielded by an asian man in the van next to us (photo above). We didn't manage to find any leopards or rhinos (particularly because they are rare) but left the Maasai Mara and returned back to Karen feeling very pleased. Mum and I have since had the house to ourselves as Stu and Maree have gone on leave (and return they day we go back to Yei) and have filled our time with movies, relaxing and a bit of adventuring into town, etc. and to the fruit and veg market in a Matatu (basically a run down van that people a crammed into as a means of cheap and short transport). Its now Thursday the 9th of August and mum and I are returning on Saturday the 11th. Our time has been hugely enjoyed here and it was a welcome break, especially since the olympics are free to watch live on youtube in Kenya!
Until the next time I muster the courage and energy to write a blog entry,
P.S I will be uploading a bunch of photos relevant to this entry (and maybe one or two previous) in a moment.