i had a dream last night that i was finished my mission. i was sitting
at a table, surrounded by friends. one said "wow, that went so
fast!". i agreed.
i woke up to the sounds of the muezzin at 5 in the morning. i lied in
my bed, smelling the dust. i was still in abyei. still here.
it has been going fast. i left canada more than a month ago. it seems longer. i have
seen and learned so many things. it feels like i have been told one
i wrote in my first post that i had anticipated one of the lessons i
would be taught. "be careful what you wish for, you just might get
it". part of my motivation for coming here, to abyei, was to test the
limits of my resolve. i didn't anticipate they would be tested so well.
the medicine is difficult, so too the hours, so too the isolation, so
too the climate and the culture. outside of work, the pleasures are
few. one has to look for them under every heavy tile of his daily
routine. there are some. that half an hour of cool silence in the
morning before the generator starts, the.....ummmm.....
in the pre-departure training, we are told of the well worn personal
trajectory we will likely follow in missions like this one. we arrive
to the project full of nervous excitement. there are so many new
things. new faces, new routines, roles and rules. we get to use the
radio (the coolest). we are frenetic, and overwhelmed, but swimming
with all of our might.
this fades after a couple of weeks. the reality of the days starts to
thicken like cement and initial momentum slows. the new things become
old ones. the weeks of work stretch ahead and seem insurmountable. we
realize that this is not some exciting dash to a spectacular finish.
it is a marathon. our mood ebbs. one day of work bleeds into
days become weeks. soon the mid point of the mission approaches.
after three months of working seven days, we are allowed to rest for a
week. our mood improves. where are going to go? tickets, and
planning, and departures. excited, we leave the country, lie on a
beach, and sleep. we return somewhat rested, and take another blow to
our enthusiasm. back here again. back in no(middle)where, treading
that feeling does not last long. days somehow find weeks again. soon
we realize that we have have an opportunity to make a lurching step
towards progress, towards a better TB program, or a bigger feeding
centre, or having borehole finally dug. but what we don't have is much
time. we become frenetic again, and as the end draws nearer, we wish
it were further away. but it isn't. and here comes someone else,
full of nervous energy, and a new world rolls over him.
for the time being, for me, there is that half hour of silence before
the generator starts. the sun is still down, and the roosters newly
up. we leave our tukuls, walk quietly past one another, whisper
"morning...morning". we go to the kitchen and boil some water, grab a
piece of warm bread, and sit on the brick wall of our communal gazebo
and look at the sky. for a few minutes, the world seems to stretch
wide, much wider than the grass walls of compound #1. for a minute,
we are who we are.
the clatter of the generator starts, and we stand up. "right." we
gulp our last bit of coffee, walk to our tukuls to put on our MSF
shirts, and grab our notebooks. the first of the people start to
arrive for the morning meeting. with them, the day rushes in headlong
and washes over us with so many things that we spin, breathless.
feeling a bit out of breath today. i will find it tomorrow. in that half an hour, before the generator starts.