Interesting Observations – South Sudan
Well, after being here over 4 months, I thought it was time I put together a list of interesting points I’ve observed about the lifestyle and habits of the South Sudanese people.
– the citizens of Juba seem a very proud people that take pride in their appearance regardless of the state of their living conditions
– I will never understand how everyone here keeps their clothes so white in this dusty environment
– people here all have great dental hygiene and I have seen little or no cavities in the smiles of those living here…I observe everyone around us brushing their teeth everyday using either a toothbrush or a twig…here’s the Wikipedia information on this interesting fact..http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teeth_cleaning_twig
– people here get around on Boda Boda’s…or what we would call motorcycles…I have seen up to 5 people on a Boda at one time…no helmets, no safety gear…
– the streets are filled with garbage..it looks like a garbage dump in some places…environmentalists would have a hernia if they saw this…but the compounds where people live are immaculate. I witness women sweeping the dirt compounds with straw brooms with no handles everyday..getting rid of bugs, garbage, leaves etc
– most people here dress as if they are going to church or to a party..no matter where they are going
-most everyone here wears flip flops on their feet, or sandals….even soldiers although I haven’t seen that in awhile, so I think they must have been given boots. It’s amazing how fast they can run here
-nothing gets thrown away…everything is kept clean and used until it is in tatters
-water is scarce and having a shower is a luxury yet most people are able to keep their hygiene to a respectable level considering they probably take bird baths or wash in the Nile
-most don’t smile. Some even look mad, but if you smile and wave, most will smile and wave back and I tell you, it is a wondrous transformation to see…their whole face lights up and those pearly whites just shine!
– the woman are the workers in this country…they tend to the house, raise the children, carry water for miles sometimes (on their head). Apparently there is a little cushion that they use to pad the load they are carrying and to help them balance…but what poise it takes to do this! I once watched a woman with a load of something (I can’t remember what) balanced on her head, put her bags she was carrying down on the ground, fix her skirt, pick the bags back up and carry on…all without spilling or dropping anything
-the physical fitness level puts us softies in the West to shame (including myself)..nuf said
-the children, no matter what the age, are rarely accompanied by an adult when running through the streets and those who are driving vehicles, are very careful not to hit them…
-there are a lot of great humanitarian organizations working to stave of the almost certain famine that could hit next year if those that have been forced to flee are not able to look after their cattle or plant their crops during the rainy season. I do not endorse specific organizations, but here are a couple you could research if you feel that helping the children who have been orphaned or are in need of food and medical care is something you would like to do…there are many more out there that can be chosen from:
This final organization is one that the Task Force South Sudan’s Canadian Contingent (that’s us) has contributed to quite extensively over the past two years, providing bunk beds and any numerous amount of assistance doing small projects to help make their lives a little easier. Ken and I went to visit the compound in January, but by then, the children had been relocated out of Juba and the last we heard, they weren’t sure if they were going to bring them back. An email was sent to the director, but no word has been received as to the status of the organization or the children themselves. If it is still in existence, they would need more assistance now, than ever.
This will be a running list for me as I wind down these last two months. If you take out the political and military aspect out of this situation, you find that people here are the same as people everywhere…just trying to get on with life the best they know how.