London mosquitos toughen me for their big brothers in South Sudan

Gallery

This gallery contains 3 photos.

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 … Continue reading

Tick Tock – one week to go

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 littleĀ staining to remind me of the mosquitoes feast!

Packing

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!

  • Anti-histimine
  • Hydrocortisone
  • 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

Visas

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.

First post – welcome to Solo in South Sudan!

Well hello and welcome!

I’m not entirely sure where to start but I suppose I should start somewhere and as Maria suggests in the Sound of Music, the very beginning is a good place to start so let’s try that!

Soooo….Why?
For a long time I have realised that I need to step outside my comfort zone. I live a comfortable life surrounded by family and friends, I realise that I’m one of the lucky ones. I had an idyllic childhood, an excellent education and life (despite plenty of challenges) has been relatively easy for me. I feel the need to acknowledge this and to give something back.

Realising and acknowledging that was the tricky bit, articulating it almost impossible but once the decision was made, everything else happened VERY quickly!

Why South Sudan?
In later posts I will explain all about the Kiltegan Fathers backgrounds and achievements but for now, I’ll explain how this particular situation came about!

Growing up, I remembered a missionary priest who would visit when he was at home with his family in a neighbouring parish. He would take the altar or visit our school and tell us about the work that he and his fellow missionaries did right across Africa. This priest was Fr. Tim Galvin and he was a Kiltegan Father.

I also remember my Grandmother supporting the missions. I can almost hear her now telling us about the marvellous work that those wonderful Irish men were doing in Africa, educating the less fortunate, spreading Gods word and doing their part to secure the future of our church by encouraging vocations. I remember delivering her copy of the Africa magazine which was published by the Kiltegan Fathers.

I reached out to Fr. Tim who is now in Narus in South Sudan. Of course, he doesn’t know me yet but knows my mother well and he has so kindly agreed to let me spend the next two months with him and his mission on the border of Kenya and South Sudan.

And so, that’s why I’m going to South Sudan….because I remembered a priest and I managed to find his email address…it’s serendipity. And in a strange way, I feel a little bit connected to my now long gone grandmother – I wonder what she would say if she knew I was to become one of those missionaries that she read about and supported even if it is just for two months.

When?
I meet my escort – the infinitely kind Fr. Marrin in Nairobi on September 3rd. That gives me just two weeks to get my act together!!

Stay tuned!!