It’s been a long time since my last post, but I find myself in the middle of a mess. Sudan is not a mess only politically, but also programmatically. Everything NGOs do here is regulated and monitored by the government often to the detriment of the people they are trying to help. In March 2009; almost all the NGOs were thrown out when Bashir was indicted by the International Criminal Court. Everything seemed to be going well until my birthday April 22, 2010, 42 years old and the day I discovered how much catch up I needed to do. Since then I’ve been back-tracking on things that my predecessor left undone, it hasn’t been pretty and could be describe as messy as the Sudan political front.
I had 15 days to rewrite the performance monitoring plan, it was like writing a huge term paper, I turned it in on May 15 and am still waiting for clarifications; in the meantime Ive been trying to put procedures and policies in place for monitoring that have been met with some resistance. It was truly disheartening along with the realization that aid when the money is given by foreign governments isn’t really about helping other people it’s about political influence. I didn’t get into this business to help the U.S. fuel its overseas political agenda, which in Sudan is a mass of contradictions, but at present the best I can do is work within this framework to see if I can help make a difference in a least some lives.
The most rewarding part of my work has been the ability to meet with beneficiaires. During a trip to Upper Nile I met with women with disabilities to discuss possible projects we could do with them. It was an interesting conversation and one where I found out that you need to do seperate projects for men and women, because when you combine them the men take over; one woman in the group kept going on and on about the generator; which was meant for this group of people with disabilities, but which was hijacked by the men.
I also met with a group of women to discuss how a borehole drilled by our program was working. The women reported that they used to have to walk an hour each way to get water and now they only walk fifteen minutes and in the dry season they had to dig in the riverbed of the Yabus to get water which was very dirty. They also report that the all the children and some adults continually suffered from diarrhea, but with the new borehole now diarrhea is occassionally caused by food. We did a mapping exercise with the women, where we mapped out the boreholes and where the villages are in relationship to the borehole. There is actually a borehole right next to their village, but it’s broken I’m hoping that soon the Water User Committee will recieve their toolkits which would enable them to repair it. Some of the women we spoke to didn’t even know their age, most were in their
early 20s, illiterate and married with children.
Currently, I’m in Southern Kordofan, trying to get the monitoring and evaluation system set up and to get some projects going. I’ve decided I like almost any place in Sudan better than Khartoum, which reminds me of Iraq or Kuwait. I like the green parts of Sudan,which so far seem to be further South. If I had a choice I would stay in Kauda right next to the Nuba mountains it’s beautiful here at least this time of year. So far, I’ve visited the Hakima Health Center, which was on our list to rehabilitate, but it’s practically brand new. I visited a “disabled center,” that was a ten by ten brick building, and when I met with the group running it none of them were really disabled. I also visited a Youth Livelihoods Center that isn’t currently operational because they lost all funding when the NGOs were kicked out of the North. This is one of the major issues in all development work; people want structures, but then after they are built and the NGO leaves there is no money to maintain them.
One of the best parts of the visit to Southern Kordofan has been the scenary and the people. On Saturday we went to the Kumo market. I got my shirt mended by a female tailor there and I also bought some mandazi – that’s the Swahili word for fried bread, it’s a bit oily, but good with a bit of sugar.