The first rule of marketing is “never build up customer expectations above those which you know you can satisfy”. On our first day we met with the SVP Central Council of Juba and some of the members. At that meeting we were presented with a document entitled “A report to the High Level Delegation”. My response to that was to say “,,,,, but it’s only me and Terry” Clearly someone has been exaggerating.
Today has been a day of complete contrast. In the last few days we’ve visited impoverished people in their villages; today we’ve met with government officials. At our first meeting with the Commissioner of Juba County we were met by a television camera and our meeting will be included as a news item on TV this evening. This meeting was followed by a meeting with the Minister of Education and then after lunch with the undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Labour. A wide range of issues were discussed for example the concerns expressed by the Commissioner regarding the perception the rest of the world has of South Sudan. He emphasised their commitment to human rights, and the role of the SVP in solving some of the problems..
The Minister of Education complimented us on the exceptional vocational training facilities at our centre at Lulugu which is providing opportunities for employment through training. He also thought that we could be able to assist in addressing problems with literacy and numeracy and the development of a school in the same area.
Our meeting with the undersecretary of state for labour (an impressive lady) covered subjects such as how she recognised SVP as a private sector stakeholder and my suspicion is that she’s thinking along the lines of us eventually being a contractor to the government – such is the high esteem in which she holds the SVP here.
So why isn’t the government doing all this work I here you ask? The short answer is that they will eventually. After decades of civil war any revenue from oil will have to be spent on clearing debt, improving the infrastructure (I’ve lost power several times a day including once whilst writing this blog). Then they can turn their attention to health, education and reducing poverty. Today I’ve heard the expression “we’re planning to” several times; only time will tell how long it will take to turn plans into action. Until then it will be the work of organisations like ours to alleviate suffering and improve the lives of people who are destitute.
PS Its the first time in many years that a lady has written down her name and telephone number and passed it t me. In fact it was before we had email addresses too!!!!!