Friday, May 11, 2007


I woke up this morning feeling hopeless. I’m not sure why today, but for some reason I am overwhelmed by the difficulties ahead for Sudan especially the way my work is going. When I think of everything that the country has gone through and the difficulties still ahead it makes me feel like I am wasting my time and lots of money here.

Maybe that is always the difficulty of development work- having a sustainable real impact without wasting resources. The government of the South is still in a nascent state and is unable to do many of the things that they a government should do and then NGOs end up doing it. Government employees are not receiving their salaries, the system is over-inflated with too many employees, and there are allegations of corruption going around. I understand that thework that the local government has to do to rebuilt the country is enormous! Imagine trying to rebuild a legal system, army and police system, property rights, access to health care, water, education, solve tribal conflicts, etc, etc with very limited resources and surrounded by people with guns who have more power than you do. In trying to help them do their job we end up fighting with the local authorities because they are working towards their political interests rather than the interests of the people.

I think this hopelessness came about because of my own personal frustrations with how things work in Sudan and how difficult it is to get anything done! You have to explain something at least 10 times before anything gets done. I'm learning that there is a lack of communication all around with Sudanese and a lack of trust of anyone. Sudanese love to talk but aren't much for putting words into action.
I know there is this sense of hopelessness in general here and people are ready to give up so easily. Take the example of this conversation today:

Me: "We have had a problem with transportation and one of the trucks got stuck in the mud and can't bring participants.
Boss: "Well, it's obvious that the conference is a failure then. We should just cancel it all!"
Me: "Ok, what do you tell the 100 people waiting for us right now? And the three months of work put into this?"
Boss: "Let's just hand it off to the government."

I think I could soon start to adopt the Sudanese giving up attitude...

All of this is compounded by these other frustrations:
- All the shops are closed down in town because of the incident a few days ago, you can feel the tension as you go through town.
- Our fridge is broken (no cold beers), our generator is broken, our printer is broken, and basically every vehicle we have has something wrong with it.
- Our cook is sick and was evacuated today. I'm dying for some good food!
- Mosquitoes are out in full force and are driving me crazy!
- I just want to feel clean and pretty for once! And not sweaty!

On a happier note, I got some photos of children to make me smile today. (but on a more hopeless note, they are all severely malnourished...) I guess I have to focus on the small victories in Sudan or I might lose all hope.

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