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1 novembre 2010

Reading newsletters

Person of the Week: Sharon Truelove
 
Being a stay-at-home mother while working for an aid group may be tough, but Sharon Truelove proves it’s possible.
 
For half of the year, Truelove works in “desperate situations” from across the globe as a British Red Cross aid worker.
 
“Leaving gets a little easier each time I go, as we (Truelove and her family) all grow in confidence that we will survive it, and we will be together, under one roof again before too long,” Truelove writes in The Independent. “But I don’t pretend that it’s easy for any of them – perhaps least of all for a little girl of six – to see their mum disappear to somewhere they’ve only ever seen on the news. Somewhere dangerous, where people are dying.”
 
It’s “very hard” for a woman with children to find aid agencies “willing to take you on,” Truelove shares.
 
“The job requires the kind of flexibility and commitment a lot of men and women with families would struggle to meet … I was qualified to do it and, until I became a mother I had relished the challenges that every assignment threw at me,” she says.
 
Truelove concludes: “The bottom line is, my family’s needs really do come first. But with their support, I have the best of both worlds and I hope that when I open the front door they feel that they do too.”




permalink | inviato da simopal il 1/11/2010 alle 8:35 | Leggi i commenti e commenta questo postcommenti (0) | Versione per la stampa

12 luglio 2010

Il megalunedì

Mondiali di calcio finiti, Gabriele Romagnoli strikes again.

Certo, da voi è lunedì. Ma se volete capire che giorno è in Sudafrica moltiplicate per mille e avrete qualcosa che ancora non assomiglia a questo lunedì dei lunedì.  E’ stato annunciato dal progressivo consumarsi delle braci ardenti. Prima si è spento il fuoco con l’eliminazione dei bafana bafana. Poi, una dopo l’altra, sono andate via le feste da tutte le città: Polokwane è ri-scomparsa dalle mappe, Nelspruit riconsegnata agli abitanti che già assaltano come termiti lo stadio. Da penultimo, addio a Città del Capo: il waterfront è tornato un molo con negozi chiusi al tramonto e due multisale commerciali. Da domani: il vuoto. Già si vedono nei bar e nelle sale aeroportuali televisori che trasmettono repliche di partite trascorse e l’effetto è quello di rivedere il filmino delle nozze dopo aver firmato le carte per il divorzio. Svanisce tutto: la mascotte è un pupazzo qualsiasi, Mandela un vecchietto che domenica compie gli anni. Gli psicologi avvertono che il Paese potrebbe cadere in una grande, inedita depressione. Eppure qui, almeno, stasera non arriverà la dichiarazione di Bocchino, non gli replicherà dal canto suo Cicchitto,  il tg non farà il pastone delle onorevoli vuvuzela. Invece di tornare noleggio un’auto e guido verso la costa, i vigneti, il karoo. Sentirsi vivi, spesso, è sentirsi lontani.


 

12 luglio 2010

Reinventing the wheel, applying lessons learnt in other countries

I have been embarassingly quite since I started my new life in Sudan.

I have been here for 2 months and a little bit more and I have now a decent feeling of the city that hosts me: Khartoum is vast, dusty, hot and confusing.
The temperature has been giving me such a feeling that I finally came to understand what it is like being in a ventilated oven turned on to bake bread.
My skin is suffering a little, as not only I am losing the tan earned working in the sun in Haiti first and sleeping on the beach in Zanzibar then, but also it is so dry here that I had to buy various moisturizing lotions according to the moment of the day and the part of the body to use them for.
There are a couple of pools worth going with friends, for a few hours in a day: impossible to endure the whole day as I would do in Europe.
There are no street addresses that are really worth for directions, mainly because there are no street signs: I live again behind the orange house, past the third speed bump on the left.
I got used to navigate google earth and I spotted the house on the map within 48 hours.
Still, I get lost in Amarat, hopelessly.
Apart from that, there is the language barrier: most of the Sudanese actually speak English, except for the vast majority of tuk tuk drivers, which whom I communicate as Italians do best: with my arms, pointing straight, right or left, when I know where I am going and mentioning the name of restaurants and countries with embassies nearby, hoping I will get to destination… without losing my life in some indescribable accident, seen on the lawless roads around here.
In this rapid analysis of life in Khartoum, I couldn’t avoid but mention the substantial lack of friends and acquaintances as the ones I used to have in Kabul.
It is clearly noticeable the fact that the emergency junkies are missing, because of the forced absence of a number of NGOs –mainly French-, combined with the different age, ethnicity and language groups (40s to 50s, Africans and Arab speakers), finding people who are Relax-compliant is the major challenge.
I am sure it’s only a matter of time and we are getting better at living here, it’s just not as fast as we were used to.


Tag inseriti dall'utente. Cliccando su uno dei tag, ti verranno proposti tutti i post del blog contenenti il tag. Life in Khartoum Sudan

permalink | inviato da simopal il 12/7/2010 alle 15:31 | Leggi i commenti e commenta questo postcommenti (1) | Versione per la stampa

21 maggio 2010

Shopping in Khartoum

E cosi', senza nemmeno esserci portati dietro la macchina fotografica, siamo andati a Ozone, una pasticceria dove avevamo gia' fatto colazione sabato della settimana precedente, per incontrare degli amici per andare a fare compere al souq di Omdurman, dall'altra parte del Nilo (praticamente l'equivalente di Trastevere).
E' considerata una citta' separata da Khartoum, anche se non c'e' discontinuita' tra le due e non so quale sia considerato il limite, dato che il parlamento sta dal lato del Nilo di Omdurman e non sul lato di Khartoum.
 
Mi ha fatto sorridere che dal ponte sul Nilo, si vede il Parlamento e tra il Parlamento ed il Nilo, sono tutte terre coltivate -l'unica zona verde visibile- con mucche e capre ovunque... sotto al Parlamento!! 
Omdurman era la capitale del Paese fino a quando gli Inglesi, alleati con gli egiziani, nel 1898 sconfissero le truppe sudanesi, dopo essersi preparati bevendo champagne. Tra le truppe c'era anche Winston Churchill!
Erano semplicemente meglio equipaggiati: vuoi mettere fucili contro lance e frecce???
 
Omdurman e' il piu' grande souk del Paese dove si possono trovare dei veri e propri gioiellini, oltre al fatto che ci sono diversi edifici storici che varra' la pena di visitare appena la temperatura si abbassa di almeno 10 gradi (sono giorni che la temperatura durante il giorno non e' meno di 45, difficile avere appetito per qualcosa di caldo).
L'amico con cui siamo andati e' in Sudan da circa 4 anni. Ha studiato archeologia, va al souq OGNI venerdi', da 4 anni. E per la prima volta, la settimana scorsa, era tornato a mani vuote.
E' stato molto utile girare per il labirinto del souq con lui (l'odore era lo stesso della citta' vecchia a Gerusalemme), che ci ha anche spiegato la storia degli oggetti in vendita, quelli preziosi, e quelli tarocchi. I miei occhi ancora stentano a vedere la differenza, a volte il tatto funziona meglio




permalink | inviato da simopal il 21/5/2010 alle 21:33 | Leggi i commenti e commenta questo postcommenti (1) | Versione per la stampa

16 maggio 2010

Counter placebo effect

It's been already 10 days that I have arrived Khartoum. 11 since my stomach is slightly upset.
I got better, worse again, better, worse, stayed worse...
Finally i decided to go to a local pharmacy and get some drugs to reduce the number of trips to the toilet.
The lady could not find the drugs that I originally thought being pretty common.
While waiting for her to find everything I needed, I looked around and notice the dust on the shelves: not that surprising considering the environment, Sudan is a big country of over 2.5 millions of square kilometers. And so much of this area is just a plain desert.
The lady behind the counter kept on looking around, up and down, left and right, seemed a little lost, as looking for the least requested item in the shop.
She eventually got a box, started scribbling something on it and asked me the age of the kid who needed it.
When I said 30  plus, she was sincerely surprised, as adults live with stomach problems, they are not sissies going to get drugs.
Looked a little bit more, got me two boxes of medicines I have never heard of before (also because I don’t know very many drugs, not using them very often), wrote on it dosage in Sudanese phonetic English and off I went, I could wait for rehydration salts any longer, I had lost my faith by then.
24 hours later I feel just as crap (literally) as I was yesterday.
I started believing in the counter placebo effect, these medicines are not going to cure me, as I don’t trust the person who gave them to me.
Tomorrow morning I will take a decision about seeing a doctor if I am still this weak.




permalink | inviato da simopal il 16/5/2010 alle 16:45 | Leggi i commenti e commenta questo postcommenti (0) | Versione per la stampa

5 maggio 2010

Spreading the mood

 




permalink | inviato da simopal il 5/5/2010 alle 13:53 | Leggi i commenti e commenta questo postcommenti (0) | Versione per la stampa

26 aprile 2010

Seen in Port-au-Prince

If you are looking for a net, or for security ropes to hold those guys up there, during the installation of the frame of this enormous billboard, you wont find any.

These guys could make a living as acrobats!




permalink | inviato da simopal il 26/4/2010 alle 20:18 | Leggi i commenti e commenta questo postcommenti (0) | Versione per la stampa

21 aprile 2010

Not in Afghanistan

It was very weird. A very weird moment.
I got back from R&R in the Domincan Republic that was not at all what I expected.
I have to skip all the shenanigans that we did during those 5 stretched days that we were there - in fact 6 and a few hours.
Once landed back in Port-au-Prince, I have to admit it, I was not at all ready to start working again.
I did nothing to speed up a driver to pick me up, instead, I hang around the logistics base, hoping to see some familiar faces.
None came by and that it is when I realized that all the people I met at first, are already gone: veni, vidi, vici, started up the emergency and then took off.
I am still around for less than a week, it's been an intense trimester.
Once the car got there and picked me up, I got onto the front seat and as we drove into the traffic, out of the compound, I looked around my neck for the headscarf.
The headscarf!!
I left Afghanistan more than 7 months ago and I still have the feeling I am there!
Needless to say, it was a split second and the skimpy t-shirt I had on today, reminded me that I am in tropical Haiti.




permalink | inviato da simopal il 21/4/2010 alle 21:24 | Leggi i commenti e commenta questo postcommenti (0) | Versione per la stampa

16 aprile 2010

A walk on the beach

Weird to be on holiday not that far away from the epicenter of an earthquake that made you discover a whole new part of the world, to realize how life could be so much better for all, with some redistribution of wealth across the people.

And some trust in their local government.

Being in the Dominican Republic, with the best to offer of the Carribean Vs what I got to see in Haiti, is blowing me away.

Enjoying life has never been easier than this!




permalink | inviato da simopal il 16/4/2010 alle 17:42 | Leggi i commenti e commenta questo postcommenti (0) | Versione per la stampa

15 aprile 2010

Charted holiday

So, after postponing for weeks, I have finally put my foot down and got ticket to fly across the border to Santo Domingo, with the idea of spending a few days with a friend in the peninsula of Samana, in the north of the Dominican Republic.

Two days before departure, I found out another friend was planning on going on holiday on the same day, so we arranged to go altogether (and the second friend changed his ticket to be on our same flight).

With nothing booked beforehand, out of the first flight, we needed to figure out how to get to Samana.

And we ended up chartering a small aircraft because... various reasons.

1) when you are on holiday for a few days, you cant afford spending too much time in transfers. 

2) there are not very many countries where you can really afford chartering a flight

3) the car from La Isabela airport would have been only 25 $ cheapper per head

We couldnt resist and, of course, paid with credit card for the 4-seater (pilot included) that flew us over to the northern side of the country.

It's been a cool flight that totally put us in the right mood for this deserved time off.

 The window was closed and locked only at the last minute... it seemed hilarious then, a little bit less now, as i type.




permalink | inviato da simopal il 15/4/2010 alle 22:19 | Leggi i commenti e commenta questo postcommenti (0) | Versione per la stampa

6 aprile 2010

Immer Bareit - Always ready

What I am going to say here, will make smile those who know me. and make others, who still know me, say "She will NEVER change". 
 
I got a call last week asking me if I was into receiving the Norwegian Minister for the Environment and Development.
I said I was, if he was not coming empty handed.
Of course I was not after something for me, but if only I thought about it more seriously, a package of Turkish Peppers would have been the minimum requirement to move forward in the discussion!
I asked for solar lights, that were not practical to procure in the number that is needed at the camp.
So, last night, knowing that the meeting would have been before 8 o'clock, I asked for a car at 6.45, knowing that those 4 km between the house and the camp are to be done at basically walking pace.
I was up way before 6, cursing myself for not being able to sleep as much as my body is telling me I need.
I got into the car with the guy who only drives on dirt roads and possibly in circle: I was on the way to ruin, considering that I left the house only at 6.59.
In the car I ate a croissant, without even drinking a sip of water, I thought I was going to chock, but I didn’t.
Then I read a few more pages of a book I find difficult to let down and I was in the middle of a school drama, while driving along Delmas 37, when I got a call from the girl who contacted me over the weekend about the Minister visit: they were already in Delmas 42 and she was calling me only then.
 
I didn’t panic, I close my book, undid my seatbelt, left the driver there and jumped out of the car, already projected forward running down along the traffic and all the early birds street vendors selling fake adidas.
 
As I got into the gate of the factory that hosts the IDP camp I am managing, I grabbed the phone and tried finding my assistant's number and, with short breath, I screamed into the phone, they were almost at the gate and he had to get EVERYBODY ready, there wasn’t much time.
 
I kept on running downhill, thinking of how unfit I have become since I left East Timor and my afternoon jogging exercise.
 
When I got to the other side of the bridge, the first policeman on a motorcycle was just approaching.
I threw out my thumb and clearly made him understand he had to stop and give me a ride.
He did, and while I rested on his back, trying to catch up breathing, I said thank you for giving me that ride that gained me those few seconds to be there, waiting for the Minister and his  convoy.
I got off the bike, screamed my assistant's name who, somehow heard and came walking towards me, got a glimpse to my left and saw the orderly arrival of a few vehicles and I was there smiling for him and his crew.
 
We spent about an hour and 15 minutes walking around and eventually we went back to where we first met to say goodbye.
I offered my hand, he grabbed it and pulled me forward for two, very unexpected kisses.
 
Now I am in bed with stiff legs: all that running!




permalink | inviato da simopal il 6/4/2010 alle 23:13 | Leggi i commenti e commenta questo postcommenti (1) | Versione per la stampa

3 aprile 2010

Northern shores

In the spirit of ure explorer, a friend of mine and I got into a car, with an officer driver and headed north towards Cap Haitien. We were told it was a barely 4 hours drive, through the central part of Haiti.

We now know for granted, after two weekends on the road, that everytime a number of hours is estimated by an Haitian a +2 factor applies.

+4 if the driver doesnt know his way around and is a male who, like every other male in the world, is reluctant to ask for directions and then also has spirit of not understanding them and having to ask at every crossroad.

8 hours after departing Port-au-Prince, in the darkness of the tropics, we arrived to destination and looked around for a place to stay.

This morning, then, we headed to the beach and for most of the day, we were oblivious of the dire conditions of many in this country, only to crash with reality the moment we drove out of the beach resort and headed towards the end of our adventure.

Somebody had to assess the beauty beyond the cluster meetings.

 




permalink | inviato da simopal il 3/4/2010 alle 19:46 | Leggi i commenti e commenta questo postcommenti (1) | Versione per la stampa

28 marzo 2010

Southern shores

 

I pleaded for going out, for once, of the beaten track and colleagues got on board for a day at the beach, in Jacmel.

A very pleasant day, great little restaurant on the beach, selling grilled fish and seafood and preparing also a spicy lanbi, a shell fish that, they say, has the same effect of viagra - dont think it works on women.

The sand was fine and the water of the perfect temperature.

Nothing to complain about the rhum sours, sweet and cold as they should be.

Batteries recharged, till the moment we hit the road to get back into Port-au-Prince, that we reached in 3 and a half hours.

74 km away!

 




permalink | inviato da simopal il 28/3/2010 alle 20:58 | Leggi i commenti e commenta questo postcommenti (1) | Versione per la stampa

23 marzo 2010

Food distribution

All my efforts for coordinating the food distribution nearby the camp have been more or less useless.

Nevertheless, despite the poor communication with the displaced, rations have been distributed to women who then walked back to the camp with their entitlements.

Something at least improved: the distribution point this time was much closer than the first time, so people just walked back, with no need to find transportation.




permalink | inviato da simopal il 23/3/2010 alle 20:4 | Leggi i commenti e commenta questo postcommenti (1) | Versione per la stampa

17 marzo 2010

Petite économie

My mother in law would be super proud of this woman.

She says that I am the queen of the petite économie, she claims I am good at savings the change and make some good deals with it.

This woman is one of those re-starting the Haitian economy, walking around the camp, selling a sticky sweet snack.




permalink | inviato da simopal il 17/3/2010 alle 21:7 | Leggi i commenti e commenta questo postcommenti (1) | Versione per la stampa

14 marzo 2010

Room with a view

We could only take 2 days off - and not even, considering we came just for the weekend!
From the website of the Abaka Bay Resort, we chose a bungalow with a beach view.
We were not disappointed.
Back into Port-au-Prince tomorrow early in the morning, i hope i will get to sleep enough tonight.




permalink | inviato da simopal il 14/3/2010 alle 13:8 | Leggi i commenti e commenta questo postcommenti (1) | Versione per la stampa

13 marzo 2010

48 hours away

The beauty for the humanitarian is doing a job he/she likes... in a country with incredible beauties.
 
I arrived with a friend last night on Ile a Vache, a 35 minute flight south west of Port-au-Prince and about the same time on a speed boat.
Couldnt see much as we crossed the water in the dark.
We were welcome by rhum coke and dozens of mosquitoes.
 
But in the morning, the beach looked fab!




permalink | inviato da simopal il 13/3/2010 alle 13:8 | Leggi i commenti e commenta questo postcommenti (1) | Versione per la stampa

11 marzo 2010

E la luce fu

Before the earthquake, there wasnt much electricity throughout the country.
After the 12th Jauary, there was basically none.
Slowly it started coming back, but there are not so many light lines anyway.
Not in the camp.
Shortly after my arrival, we got 4 solar lights that we have now installed in critical points in the camp and they are making it a little less dangerous than before.
We definitely need many more, as it is a matter of personal safety, for many, to leave their tents and wander towards the toilets, for example.

 




permalink | inviato da simopal il 11/3/2010 alle 15:2 | Leggi i commenti e commenta questo postcommenti (1) | Versione per la stampa

10 marzo 2010

Sunset over Port-au-Prince

It's been a long day and i have the feeling i have been making steps forward.
It's the first time i am doing something i have done in the past, so i am not just making attempts, but i kind of know what it is going to happen next.
well, at least at times: previously, i was on the closing phase of IDP camps, now it's the setting up phase, there are difficulties that i have not faced before.
The emergency is more... present. The sense of confusion is higher.
I hope for the best, but stay realistic: the rainy season is approaching!




permalink | inviato da simopal il 10/3/2010 alle 21:51 | Leggi i commenti e commenta questo postcommenti (0) | Versione per la stampa

9 marzo 2010

Arial view of the IDP camp

This is what the place i work looks like today.

It is growing and it is becoming more and more complex to manage. But it's challenge I am sharing with others and it is looking good!




permalink | inviato da simopal il 9/3/2010 alle 14:7 | Leggi i commenti e commenta questo postcommenti (0) | Versione per la stampa
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