Saturday, December 24, 2005

After nine months in Sudan, I've finally managed to take some time off - and arrive 'home' (well, in the place where most my family lives) just in time for the holidays.

Culture shock, as usual, is more intense in reverse - and even on the drive home from the airport I began marvelling at how beautiful life can be in a peaceful and prosperous country like my own.

While even the most horrific stories and sights rarely make me emotional on the job in Sudan (counsellors tell me this is all to do with self-protection), I found myself getting teary-eyed at the sight of a lovingly handpainted bird house that was perched among the pines in a woody residential area near my home.

To think that someone had the time, the resources and the compassion for a few little winged creatures to erect this little bird haven for no particularly pressing reason suddenly seemed like the ultimate luxury to me - a kind of luxury that I'll be unlikely to see in Darfur for quite a long time.

As I rediscover the comforts of my 'normal' life and begin to reflect on my Darfur experiences, I will also try to take a few weeks of holiday from my blog. I hope to be back with stories and thoughts on Darfur in the new year.


At , Blogger John1975 said...

I felt the exact same way, and still do to a degree when I left Bosnia for the last time.

It's always amazed me how as fast as the snap of a finger one can be transported from one extreme to the other.

Merry Christmas!


At , Blogger EKENYERENGOZI Michael Chima said...

Are you the only one blogging from Darfur on the situation from an eye-witness account?

Global Voices Online wants to link with anyone blogging from Darfur or other regions of Sudan.

Well done.


At , Blogger anonymous said...

quality of life.

how do you measure it?

i can't say that i truly know what it's like to live somewhere outside of the US, much less in an impoverished part of it.

i hesitate to congratulate anyone who makes the conscious decision to voluntarily go somewhere far away with the merest hopes of trying 'to help people', all the while knowing full well that there are those amongst us here, in our own country, who live in 3rd world conditions.

what about these people? or better yet, what about the social workers here who trudge through that daily quagmire of red tape and limited resources to get to their thankless jobs? those social workers are NOT volunteering for a year or so. they're performing theirs tasks admirably in the form of an undesirable career. for years and years.

don't get me wrong, sleepless. you are in an honorable vocation (albeit limited due to time constraints). it's just that i would like for people in your position (those who go over seas and then come back) to not look at all the 'bird houses' our amazing country has to offer as extravagant amenities but as key biproducts afforded us by this intricate and sometimes poorly understood country of ours.

enjoy this time home. it sounds like you not only deserve it, but as if you've been missing it for quite some time. soak in it. and live in the moment. you're going to need these moments and memories to help you get through the daily grind which awaits you back in the sudan.

as for me, i love my life here and all the whistles and bells with which i've grown accustomed to. i'm going to revel in it before i take off on my journey. and i also have this 'little bird house in my soul' that needs tending to.

At , Blogger quixote said...

Sleepless, I just found your blog via "My Heart's in Accra". I've read back to November, and then just had to say something. Problem is, I don't know what. I'm speechless at the magnitude of what you do, and how calmly you manage to write about it. Funny, too. Thank God for people like you. Enjoy your holiday as much as you can. I know how hard it can be when an alternate universe keeps unbalancing everything you see.

At , Blogger Massander said...

I haven't been to war torn parts of the world, but I've been to and from between Jamaica and the US many times. I often feel like my flight is a time warp between utterly different worlds, except Jamaica is becoming increasingly Americanized.

@anonymous - If you think of the world as our global community, then traveling to do work in Darfur can be just as important, if not more, than doing work on American soil. Plus, pound for pound, resources directed at our ailing communities in the states are many times that of 3rd world countries. I'd be interested in knowing whether you still hold this opinion once you travel internationally (provided you see any point in traveling out of the US).

At , Blogger sharley said...

Anonymous, I don't know that Sleepless ever stated she is from the U.S. Not everyone in this field of work is from the U.S. Many people in this vocation feel they are part of a GLOBAL family not a country-wide only community. Maybe some people feel their talents might be better for developing countries. Maybe those talents are honed and carved towards developing countries, while others are more suited towards helping in their own already prosperous country. I help out in my local community/country but I have a dream of helping out in developing countries too.. b/c if I have the capabilty and they don't I will help them.. even if they are not in my country.. we are all still human beings.. one family. I commend everyone who works in any kind of social working capacity, no matter where they are working specifically. Keep up the good work Sleepless, I congratulate you in your efforts and hope you have a wonderful vacation!!

At , Blogger DaveNC said...

Hello Sleepless.

I am glad you had a chance to return home and decompress. I know you've ben trying to distance yourself from the reality you have temporarily escaped but I'm sure you've heard that Egypt is expelling some 650 refugees who have been camping in Cairo. It is a shame that the "unsightliness" of their camp would first lead to protests, then riots and now, for some 650 expulsions back to the hell they were escaping.

Rest well. Drink in the love of your family and friends and know we are keeping the flame flickering awaiting your reports frfom the field.


At , Blogger smileformenow said...

Hi, my name is Jessica and I live in northern new jersey. In my high school I'm in a holocaust and genocide course where we learn about different genocides all over the world from the past and sadly in this case the present. Our new topic of study is the Sudanese genocide that is now going on and that you are horribly witnessing. Our last subject was the Rwandan genocide. I'm not sure of how much knowledge you attained from that situation but it scares me how much the two situations have in common. The scariest part is the fact that not only my country but countries around the globe sat back and watched as 800,000 Rwandans were slaughtered in less than 3 months. There were apologies made by my government promising that something like that would never happen again yet once again look what is going on. As I sit and watch the news I feel so hopeless inside because I saw the horror of what happened in Rwanda. I so badly want to do something to help yet I'm 18 years old without any way of getting my voice heard. I'm writing to you to let you know that my class and I strongly appreciate the things you are doing. We can't experience the hardships you are but we do know partially what is going on. I give you my regards and my prayers. My one request is that you return my comment with any idea of a way I could help or my class could help. I feel that not helping and not opening my mouth is feeding to the genocide. I wish you my luck and I am praying.

At , Blogger lee said...

I hope you enjoy your vacation, Sleepless. You are doing very admirable work.

Anonymous, I believe that your opinions are not sound. Your comment reads like a bit of a rant. The fact that you chose to post anonymously, and the clearly taunting domain name you chose for your blog, indicate your ill intentions. If you truly felt secure in your beliefs, I don't see why you would hide your identity (even if it is only an internet identity, at that). Feel free to correct me if I have misunderstood you.

Keep up the good work, Sleepless. I do not hesitate to congratulate you. You are doing a good thing, and you must be a good person.

At , Blogger Africa Anonymous said...

Hello Sleepless,

I've been working just across the border with Darfur refugees in Eastern Chad. I've just made my way home and certainly sympathize with the peculiaralities of such a return. I've been following your blog whenever I have been forturnate enough to have access to internet (which essentially involves begging WFP) and I am simply impressed with the impression you have left on so many people. Keep it up, but don't forget to take care of yourself.

And for those who don't understand anonymity, you don't know Sudan.

At , Blogger Ruby said...

You are in my thoughts everyday now -- since Nicholas Kristoff wrote about Darfur and mentioned your blog. I feel more optimistic about the world because you live in it. When I think of YOU, I think, also, of all the brave individuals like you, out in frightening parts of the world, by choice. You chose this journey. I'm not a religious woman, but AMEN to you, peace, l'chaim. And happy new year to everyone whose lives and hearts you've touched.

At , Blogger Siel said...

Hope you're adjusting back nicely :) But does this mean you're no longer eligible for a bloggie in the Africa/Middle East category?

At , Blogger Bruz said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At , Blogger Bruz said...

I was working in Darfur for a few months last year. I just found this blog and am enjoying reading Sleepless' words. They are all (except the single girl stuff) so familiar and true. I might go back.


At , Blogger rsandy7420 said...

I was given a link to your blog earlier today and just finished reading it, beginning to vacation. You are doing what I want to do "when I grow up". Can you please write something about how you started? What university programs are useful? How did you get your foot in the door? Also, I'm old - do aid agencies have age limits?

At , Blogger Bob said...

Hello, are you still in Darfur or somewhere else?

Interesting. I worked in Sudan (Kadugli, Sth. Kordofan) in the eighties for three years. I would have stayed but was not allowed to stay by the government of the time.

At that time the towns and villages of the area were caught up bewteen government and SPLA fire. 20 years ago and I suspect perpetrators of human rights abuses, which there were, although the international media took no notice, have still not come to justice.

All the best Bob

At , Blogger Eric said...

I found your blog from the 2006 bloggies award finalists! So glad I did! Good luck!

At , Blogger sleepless in sudan said...

Just a quick response to Jessica's comment on what people can do to help in Darfur - here's a post I wrote a few weeks ago on this:

At , Blogger David Julian said...

Though a simple post, that was actually quite beautiful. Sometimes days like today can seem so drab and useless--the rain, the wind, the cold.

We do live a privileged life here, thanks for reminding us.


P.S. I also found your site through the Bloggies. I have a feeling I'll be visiting this site more often.

At , Blogger said...

Hi. I was just blogging and couldn't resist a title as funny as Sleepless in Sudan, cuz what else would anyone be in Sudan?

I want to keep this one. Funny lady.

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At , Blogger Kelsey C. said...

I find it amazing that you took the time to go to Darfur and took on an active role in making a difference. In my past history classes I have learned much about genocide and how people in other countries around the world don't do anything about it. It's nice to know there are people out there, like you, that are trying to do something to change what is happening in third world countries. I was wondering if you learned anything about the Sudanese government or economic systems, because if these systems were strong, I feel that genocide shouldn't be as much of a problem as it has become. I am sure you have experienced life changing events, that will make you look at the world differently and appreciate everything so much more.

At , Blogger said...

At , Blogger udraznianie said...

niezły bałagan jest w sudanie

At , Blogger Unknown said...

Hi fellas,
Thank you so much for this wonderful article really!
If someone want to read more about that humanitarian aid I think this is the right place for you!

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