A special thanks to Ken Tong, and Inma Vazquez who supported my controversial blog activity about a very sensitive environment.
As the last view days of my Darfur stint approached, I became equally discouraged as I was excited to get back to Canadian life. The situation in Darfur seemed to have fallen several steps backward from when I arrived in October, especially as the rainy season was approaching. I was not expecting to leave the country with a feeling of victory or contribution – but I was not even able to draw conclusions.
I presented my debriefings and meetings in a ridiculously pragmatic manner: Providing suggestions on staffing and material ordering – and even those issues were politically charged and ethically challenged. The office in Khartoum was very busy dealing with the Abeyie Crisis, so I felt obligated to make a subtle exit- which matches with my social skills anyway.
I disembarked the Air Canada Flight in Toronto and collected the slim remains of my travel belongings… a school bag, and a few plastic grocery bags. I rode the subway back to my apartment in Toronto and started my Canadian life as if I had never left.
I am back working at St. Michael’s hospital on the front lines of nursing: working in nephrology/urology – kidneys and penises – A small but vital role in our matrix of a healthcare system. I really miss my co workers in Sudan, but the staffs on 8CS are kind and so much fun, it makes adjusting much easier. I’m also back to drinking too much expensive coffee – I could probably feed a whole community in Sudan with the money I spend on coffee. Patients complain about different things here: "my jello is the wrong colour". Sometimes I am temped to parallel a typical African healthcare problem with them – but then I think of my coffee habits and conclude I am set in my Canadian ways too.
This is my 5th attempt at making a profound final blog entry in hope to leave people in tears with motivation and inspiration – ha ha! But I’ll refer you to more skilled people for that: Currently I am reading James Orbinski’s "An Imperfect Offering". It is a good book, making my introduction to humanitarian-aid appear puny. I’ve also been reading "28: Stories of AIDS in Africa" by Stephanie Nolan – a very realistic perception of AIDS in Africa. I have plans for volunteering with an MSF touring exhibit called "A Refugee Camp in the Heart of the City" where we set up a model of a refugee camp as it would appear in a developing country and give various groups an experiential tour. In the fall I will take a nutrition course, with hopes to be off on another MSF humanitarian project in the winter of 2009.
My Favorite Sudan Moment:
When visiting Seleia weeks after the attack, we celebrated David’s (the field co-ordinator) end-of-mission with food that was available in the renewed beginnings of a basic market. Dr. Senop wrote and sang a song about being in Seleia. Adriene the logistician used a stick, string, and a tub to make a base musical instrument to accompany the song. Then Mr. A. started to play some remarkably groovy Sudanese music on this very simple device. Mr. Y. continued speaking in a conversation completely unrelated to the music but stood up and started dancing as if it were an involuntary action. Then Mrs. H and some other women from the community moved away from the group and re-approached spirited and singing as they marched and danced toward the group. I tried to immitate Mr. Y.s dance trying to prove that not all foreigners are lame. Olivier, a specialist from the Geneva office grinned wide-eyed at the action. He must have appeared arrogant because Mr. T. put his food down and fell into a crazy- rhythmic-intimidating dance toward Olivier which caused him to run away laughing. I had previously declared this burnt village one of the most miserable places on earth. But that night we were able to put politics aside, celebrate and have fun. Other community members jointed into the fun- we were no longer just aid-providers and them beneficiaries, we were all people with the same basic human needs.