Friday, November 27, 2015

South Sudan

South Sudan is an interesting place to find yourself in.
Curfews, stories of violence, of fights, stories of survival, stories of disappointments.
I spend most of the time in Goal's compounds in Twic and Agok, a few hours by plane north of Juba, at the border with Sudan.
Very far from anything. In Twic there is no coca cola nor pepsi. That is how remote it is.
I visited nutrition centers and hospitals, met with women groups, discussed about childhood and access to adulthood with community members... great.
Interesting for me, a few weeks before I was in Ethiopia, in the refugee camps of Gambella, populated by South Sudanese Nuer. Here I was in South Sudan, with the Dinkas.
Nuer and Dinkas are the two main groups fighting against each-other, with horrible stories of massacres, mutilation, hate. The Nuers I met all had nasty stories about Dinkas. For me it is difficult to truly understand how different they are, and what is the base of so much hate. They seem to be so similar.

The country I have seen lives thanks to Humanitarian aid. From the airplanes in Juba airport, the presence of blue-soldiers, the logos on hospitals, schools, the branding of houses... evidence of the presence of NGO and the UN is everywhere. And they are certainly running a lot of social, education and health services.
It should costs the world 800 millions a year, to assure peace, survival, education and health in this war-thorn country. Half has been raised in 2015. Whilst I was there people were looking at the options to shut down operations, lack of funds means to close nutrition centers, delivery rooms, community support...

When I came back someone asked me if it would not just be better to stop the humanitarian aid, stop accepting refugees and leave the people to sort their problems out.
A watch and see attitude.
Behind it is the opinion that Humanitarian aid can fuel or help maintain conflict. I didn't really knew how to respond and make sense of my position. Yes, maybe, humanitarian action and human kindness are giving an option to people that are suffering to seek shelter, hospitality and help. And that might not push them to fight back, and maybe sort out the problem.
And continue the cycle of violence.
And enable the strongest, with the most weapon, cash to destroy the others. And the most vulnerable are children, women, old people. The past, the future and the creators. 
It's like telling a kid that has been raped or beaten to sort his/her shit out with his/her abuser.
It is siding with the bully. I feel it is not good.
So why is humanitarian aid so essential? Because it remind us to embrace that this world deserve to exist in a multi-cultural way, where all have the right to exist.

Today, in Paris world leaders are discussing Climate change and environment. It is a great challenge for humankind, I am happy it is a growing concern.
One of the other challenge that not many are addressing is the systematic cultural diversity destruction that is happening. Languages, ways of living, cultures are permanently removed and with them our human identity.
We destroy the environment, but we are even more efficient in destroying ourselves, and destroying those who do not thing like us. If people think differently, have other ways to eat, pray, relate... I think to myself  "wahw, they are showing me a new way to be human". And they deserve respect and the right to exist. 

So, is the country under Humanitarian-dip? For sure.
Does it have negative impact? Yes probably.
Does it cost a lot? 80 USD per year per South Sudanese.
What is the impact? Life-changing. Enabling people to survive, to live better and to build a future, not only for the people of South Sudan, but for all of us, and our human diversity.

Fascinating thing in South Sudan is the bird diversity. Small colorful bee-eaters, vultures, kites, eagles, to big crested cranes. Its a great place to see those flying things.
And cows. Everywhere, with their massive horns. Beautiful..
And very, very tall people. I'me average size, some of the Nuers and Dinkas tower me from two heads above. They are majestic in the way they walk, the scarification on their faces and bodies, the bond they have with their cattle, it is very strange and beautiful. And often beyond my capacity to understand.
The relation with the cattle is very difficult for me to get. I see steak, they see an extension of themselves, wealth and respectability, honor, spirituality, I don't know.


  1. Love your birds drawing, especially, and people too.

  2. Love your birds drawing, especially, and people too.