Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Reality check

I love Sudan because of its people. They are the friendliest, kindest people I have ever met. I have made friends quickly, and believe they are real friends, as demonstrated the other weekend with their attempts to rescue me from both the heat and myself. Also, on several occasions whilst out walking, people have offer to share their meal with me. I can think of many, many examples of peoples kindness and friendship. As an expat, I also have a reasonable package which includes accommodation, food and laundry, so life is easy here, for me.

However, Sudan has its problems, not the least of which is the continued US sanctions that are still imposed here. There are many refugees, both Sudanese and from other countries. Down my street there are families living in cardboard shacks or within the shells of partially built buildings. What will happen when the rains come I dread to think. Unemployment is a big problem here. A friend told me that both his elder brothers are unemployed, his sister's husband works abroad and so he is supporting the whole family on his single salary. Working in my hotel there is a young Eritrean refugee, who cannot return to his country and family due to the military situation. He is highly educated, speaks perfect English, but the only work he can find here is as a waiter. He says that he suffers discrimination because of both his race and religion. With the low salary he has to pay rent and support his younger brother, who is also here but unable to find work. In respect of human rights infringements or the on going troubles in Darfur, I have no knowledge other than the contrary reports the media produces and I will leave them to those more knowledgeable than myself to comment on. I will only write about personal experience and observations.

This is not my normal type of post so why am I writing this? I am writing to remind myself how lucky I am. Sudan is a fantastic country, the people are amazing, to me. I do care about the problems and I would like to find a way I can help, even if it is in some small way, and I also feel guilty for how different my life is here compared to many others. BUT, and it is a big but, I can't help feeling happy and very, very fortunate to be here.