Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Welcome to Jahun, Paradise!

“Welcome to Jahun, Paradise” is what everyone says when you meet them for the first time here, and they laugh, while my mind goes back to Sapphhire Breeze at anchor in Fiji, diving in  for a swim. I guess we all know its very far from paradise out here, a poor dusty muslim village of 30,000 with exactly what on offer? Nobody seems to be able to say. And not being able to travel about and find out for myself, all I know is the MSF compound, the MSF Hospital facilities and the short drive between the two, along a wide main  sealed  but dusty road that has as many goats as cars going along it and there aren’t that many of either of them . 

The street has a lining of trees along one side but theres almost no other green thing anywhere, just sand and gray dirt that is used to make the small houses on the streets that run back from the road on one side, while on the other theres a scattering of  wooden tables boxes and plastic buckets making tiny stalls and shacks behind the trees with the odd person lounging about.  Just before the hospital, the sandy unsealed side road is all bumps and  potholes, theres a ragged worksite where a new Mosque is in the early stages of construction and opposite a tin shed that acts a a substitute for the time being in this part of town. In a noter place one can see the four tall thin minarets of a more substantial mosque, but we cannot approach it. Everything here is in the "Red Zone" : Out of Bounds apart from the Hospital and the compound. Theres a sort of middle eastern appearance to everything,what with sand everywhere and the Muslim women and girls walking with large and tiny pots and packages balanced on their heads which are always covered, and the men with long flowing gowns and round caps. Its hot and dry most of the time but as it’s the rainy season there is rain from time to time, which so far seems to arrive in brief heavy thundery downpours heralded by strong winds that send sand and litter flying along the road and up into the air as people rush about looking for shelter. At night after rain its cooler, some say cold but I wouldn’t, and its easier to sleep but otherwise in my MSF room, I lie on the thin sheet and perspire all night long. Being the wet season its also malaria season so I sleep under the net and take doxycycline. Paradise : yeah, right!

So I think if you were driving through here you would quickly forget it. Quiet sleepy, dusty Muslim town with nothing happening, no restaurants, no shops to speak of, no sights, you would definitely forget it.

Unless of course you came to the hospital....

Family Members waiting in the hospital grounds

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