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Archive for the ‘Techo’ Category

Last night, as dusk fell over the compound and we walked back to our accommodation, horrific techno music pumped from our Kenyan nutrition nurse’s mud hut. Suddenly, out of nowhere, everyone began to dance in the sand. I say dance, but in truth we are trying to encourage one of our colleagues to lose some weight, so the resulting moves were a heady mixture of aerobics and bump ‘n’ grind. Nya’wich – a beautiful 19 year old Nuer girl who has never left her village, let alone been exposed to the horrors of techno, watched and laughed from the sidelines until she was finally persuaded to join us. She showed a real aptitude for Western dance, quickly mastering the classic side step shuffle, the jogging arms trick, and the occasional hip wiggle.

This morning I went to one of our emergency feeding centres on a monitoring visit. South Sudan has the worst maternal mortality rate in the world and today’s feeding clinic was for pregnant and lactating mothers, many of whom had walked for hours through the mud and water to get there with their babies in Moses baskets on their heads. The women waited to be assessed, feeding their oddly quiet babies under the shade of a tree while men walked past, the occasional Kalashnikov slung over a shoulder. Upper arm circumferences were measured, immunisation cards checked and vaccinations administered before they were given rations of oil and sugar mixed with CSB (corn-soya blend). The blend is for the mothers themselves, to combat malnutrition and help them produce enough milk to feed their children. One mother passed me her feather-light baby girl with long thin limbs and scaly skin. She looked about 9 months, but when I checked her record card, she was more than two years old. For the first time since arriving, the flies were leaving me alone and it wasn’t hard to see what was distracting them – I saw a newborn baby with its face almost entirely obscured, flies feeding on its eye infection.

Life here is an unsettling mixture of the heart-rending and the ridiculous and it’s hard to move from one to the other. The situation changes, but your mind takes a while to catch up.

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