This scary looking guy works with me in Maternity just about every day, and he is a very valuable member of our staff, a friendly intelligent and reliable guy with pretty good English, excellent judgement and work ethic. Despite his appearance he is surprisingly gentle and softly spoken. He represents hope for the future of this struggling country, the necessary human bridge between the traditional and ancient ways of the Dinka people, and the world of modern medicine. Those lines on his forehead were made with a knife when he was about 15. It must have been agony to have the skin on his head incised right round to the back on both sides, several times, but he had to endure the pain without the slightest grimace or hint of emotion, or else risk humiliation. You cant see it but he also had the two front lower teeth knocked out, something the Dinka women also endure for an apparently desirable cosmetic effect. The Dinka women also cover their abdomens with patterns of dots and dashes, scarring made by nicking the skin with something sharp. One Dinka father with similar markings told me his sons wont be subjected to this ritual, so clearly these traditional ways are going to largely disappear.
I am running out of time with only a few days left before once again I pack my bags. I have been so much busier here than I ever was in Ethiopia - the problems are much the same but there are three times as many. There are many posts still unwritten and I am not sure how much free time there will be for them. What I have to do in the next few days is write a report for MSF on my time here, and create a document I can give to my replacement who will be arriving here on the Plane coming to take me away on Thursday. Ideally the replacement arrives a day or two before, so he can be shown the ropes by the person leaving - I got here a day later than I was supposed to because of the weather, so my "handover" was at the Airstrip - just a "hello, goodbye and good luck" - but its a mystery why this time no time at all has been allowed for handover. All I am hoping for is good weather, because if I dont leave here on Thursday I will miss my connections back to Australia.
|My Room for 42 nights