Dear reader. I promised to update you after a couple of busy days.
The only tarmac road outside the capital, Juba is the road which runs to the Ugandan border crossing at Nimule. The 3 hour drive provides a good overview of the landscape of South Sudan with deep forests and rolling hills. I mentioned the words “sharp contrast” the other day in respect to climate and geography. We were driving along and I was comparing the ease of travel in South Sudan to the journey we make in Sudan between Khartoum and El Obeid; on this we have to endure “security” check points every half hour or so which makes life difficult and causes quite a bit of anxiety as all the officers are armed and many without uniforms. I should have kept quiet and a little less complacent as a few minutes later we came across a queue of traffic. Betram overtook the queue, drove straight to the front where we were stopped by a man in military uniform with a radio. The man and Betram exchanged pleasantries and had a reasonable long conversation. The man in uniform explained that they had closed the road whilst they removed some land mines. Betram explained that he had in the car a “high level delegation from the UK and an International Vice President”. I was thinking that if he looked into the car he’d realise that it was only us when I realised that the windows were blacked out anyway. After much shouting into the radio the man then told us that they would stop working on the mine clearance whilst we went through. Yes – and the rest of the queue remained where they were!
The Community of Nimule are vulnerable people made up mostly of refugees who have returned to their homeland after civil war to find their area which has been a battlefield for 22 years offers no prospects or job opportunities. The original proposal for this project was based on the number of total beneficiaries being in excess of 2,000 in the local community and permanent employment for 8 staff including orphans and widows. The project is for the production of seedlings and saplings of a wide range of trees including for example, mahogany, cypress, fruit trees etc. These will eventually be used for building, delineating boundaries, furniture manufacture, shade (something we don’t think about) fruit etc. This project is very much in its infancy and has yet to prove that the original objectives can be achieved. We need a business plan based on what they have learnt so far and which will provide focus for future development.
Isn’t this where I came in 15 years ago??????