Here we go again!!
I haven’t written in the same way I did last time about leaving London, the preparations and the goodbyes.
I can’t say whether it was more difficult leaving this time or the last. The circumstances were so different in every respect.
Firstly South Sudan was a very different place two years ago. It was enjoying its new found independence. There were tribal factions as always but the country was largely peaceful. There was hope for what the future might bring.
Now, in 2015 it seems that the hope has been drained from the land I left in 2013. My family and friends all knew South Sudan to be a dangerous place where the political situation was volatile and uncertain as a result of the war which broke out shortly after I left in December 2013.
Of course I was nervous about my return. My friends and the people I loved seemed to think that my return visit was badly timed and I was being foolish.
In particular my mother and Nana were very worried. I found this very hard. I hate it when people worry about me. I hate to think that I am causing anyone any distress or discomfort. I internalised it all and felt so selfish and heartless. It was my fault that I had upset my mother and Nana.
There is work to be done here and there are people doing it. I learned on my last visit that the smallest kindnesses shown by one person can be life changing to another.
So here I am in Riwoto in Eastern Equatorial State teaching maths to young Toposa children and happily tagging along with Fr. Tims visits to the outposts.
The second major change in circumstance is my personal life! When I left London in 2013 I was single and paddled my own canoe (so to speak). Now I am blessed with a new relationship which is full of love and promise. My leaving came at a time of transition for us and I had sleepless nights worrying if I was making the right decision or not.
Thankfully, my incredible boyfriend knows me well enough to know that my love for South Sudan is part of who I am. And now the confirmed singleton realises how lucky I am to have someone who will support me in my endeavours.