On December 15th 2013, the generations-old power struggle between the Dinka and Nuer ignited and a wave of tribal violence spread across South Sudan. Once again, South Sudan was brought to the brink of war – this time a bloody civil war which has the awful hallmarks of descending into the kind of genocide that we so recently saw in Rwanda. Over a million people are displaced, the refugee camps are full and locals flee having seen villages burned and their tribes-people murdered.
Narus, being close to the Kenyan border is safer but is on the migrant route out of South Sudan. More than 500 people every day leave South Sudan through Narus.
The trouble broke out while the children were on their “Long Holiday”. We worried and feared that the children would not return to school – travelling by road was so dangerous. However, when the children began to return, we were overwhelmed and delighted to learn that so many had returned that the school could not accommodate them all in the dorms. A canvas was constructed to shield the girls from the blistering heat and wild animals but a more secure and lasting solution is needed.
Construction on the new dorm began in February. We have raised a considerable amount of money so far but there is still a way to go.
My wonderful brother Diarmuid and 14 other elite athletes from ESP have so generously entered 3 relay teams in the Cork city marathon which is taking place on Monday 2nd June 2014 to support the effort. And I ask that you support them while at the same time supporting our project in South Sudan. Each and every cent you contribute will be spent on the project – there are no administration charges or fees.
So please – dig deep and do what you can! It is hugely appreciated.
For those of you brave enough to look! The last picture is my favourite – the intrepid mosquito bit me directly underneath where I’d had my jabs just hours later. I can only assume he’s is off his head on yellow fever vaccine somewhere! These pictures were taken more about 36 hours after I was bitten and after I’d slept with my hand in a wine cooler!
Well…its just one week to go now and preparations are in full swing. Flights are booked and I leave for Nairobi on Tuesday September 3rd. Its beginning to sink in just what a mouthful I’ve bitten off here and I really hope that I’ll do this adventure justice.
I’m really happy that I will be escorted from Nairobi to Narus. Frankly, this is a huge weight off my mind.
Jabs and bites
So I had all my shots last week. Ironically, just hours after, I was bitten horribly by something vicious and nasty while I slept. I think it was a mosquito but I’m not sure. Either way, on top of feeling rather rubbish on Tuesday because of the shots, I had three awful bites which had swollen like something out of a horror movie. I can only imagine that the mosquitoes in South Sudan are eagerly awaiting my arrival. I slept with my hand in a wine cooler on Tuesday night and went straight back to the doctor on Wednesday morning. The poor man was horrified and prescribed super strength anti-histimines and hydrocortisone. My hands and arms are back to the size they’re supposed to be now and theres just a little staining to remind me of the mosquitoes feast!
I will admit to being very proud of my packing prowess. I can achieve almost any trip on hand luggage – my personal best being 5 days in the US and then straight to my sisters wedding on hand luggage. However, this time I’m having to bite the bullet and actually check luggage! Frankly, clothes are the least of my worries although I’ve packed very sensibly. Light clothes and lots of layers. It will be hot and humid in Narus and its rainy season now so I have to account for that too.
The most important thing I will pack is my medical kit – here are some highlights!
- Iodine (for the purification of water if necessary)
- Canulae and clean syringes – often such things are sterilised and reused and its better to take the precaution of having my own.
- Anti-biotics – should I get an infection, I will have a course of anti-biotics on hand. I don’t know how easy it will be procure them in South Sudan.
- Electrolyte sachets
- Antibacterial wipes and cream
- Basic equipment for dressing wounds
- Sleep aid
- DEET (to keep away the mosquitoes)
- Headache tablets – I have paroxysmal hemicrania so I have to ensure I have enough Indomethacin to last me for two months. Whats more is that given that I don’t know how the change in routine, environment, climate etc will affect my headaches, I have to plan for worst case scenario….thats a lot of drugs!!
- Standard pain killers
I will need a Visa to enter Kenya but also to enter South Sudan. I have called both embassies and I am assured that visa’s will be issued at the border and that nothing is required in advance. Normally visa’s cost about $100 but I need to factor in extra for any bribes I might need to pay. On my to-do list is to take plenty of passport photos and photocopies of all my documentation.