"You're always talking about how dangerous Darfur is for the people here," my friend tells me disapprovingly today.
Ignoring my raised eyebrow, she barges on, gesturing theatrically: ""You know, people are not the only ones whose life is being endangered. I have a case for you- right over there in my office (at another NGO). KITTENS."
"YES, TINY LITTLE kittens. They were dying."
It seems that, after finding three newborn little fuzzballs in a cardboard box in the garden, my friend went on a bit of a mission this week - and she decided this was something the NGOs should know how to deal with. "I went to our protection adviser and told her I had a clear protection issue."
Being another crazy khawajia, the protection woman immediately took pity on the poor heap of meowing mess and, after a serious assessment of the situation, decided this was a case for the livelihoods manager.
Unfortunately for our two crusaders, the (Sudanese) livelihoods manager displayed just a little bit less patience for their concern than they had hoped for.
"They are dying, the kittens. What can we do? What do you usually do with a problem like this? Do you know a vet?"
"Yes, there are some here." (it later turns out this man is one himself, but neglects to mention this important fact during the conversation) "But normally, we do not call a vet. We bury them."
"No no, they are not dead yet."
"Ah yes, but we bury them."
Horrified looks from the two little white girls.
"YOU BURY THEM ALIVE?"
"No, no. We kill them first."
"So we have to KILL them???"
"Yes, maybe. No. Where are they? Maybe I should look at them."
"No, but you are going to kill them!!!"
At this stage, the other Sudanese staff are apparently pissing themselves with laughter (both at these two crazy kitten-obsessed foreigners and the strangely unsympathetic livelihoods manager, whose morbid approach to kitten rescue apparently doesn't represent normal Sudanese attitudes towards house pets).
The girls storm off in a huff to find their kittens, and all ends well as they discover that the mother has returned to look after them and that -best of all- no one has revealed their hiding place to the livelihoods manager, at least not just yet.
Tags: Sudan, Darfur, aid worker, protection, livelihoods, kittens