Well this last week has been a great journey. Someone once told me that the best way to evaluate where you are at any given point is based on these three questions: Are you giving? Are you learning? Are you having fun?
I feel this past week definitely fulfilled the three quotas. A World Faith Chapter is starting with great support in Khartoum, I learned tons about the history and current issues that Sudan is facing, and I met great people who both further inspired me and made the trip enjoyable.
First of all, there is something a bit ironic about meeting anyone from Sudan… They are the most peaceful and amicable people as a culture that I have found in my travels in some 20 countries now. It is damn near impossible to imagine these same people, whether from the north or south, Port Sudan or from Darfur, as capable of what we hear on in the western media, which at time is misleading (I plan on writing another post just on this subject). As arrived on the tarmac this irony became apparent, as the warm smiles greeted me as I arrived, with pieces of Sudan Air wreckage in the background.
I spent my first few days in Omdurman, being hosted by Gihad Abunafeesa, now the Regional Director of Sudan for World Faith. Gihad’s family took great care of me, as I as staying the male side of their gender-separated home, which I shared with her cousin Midu, who is suffering from Sickle-Celled Anemia, and an old Darfurian Sheikh who was deaf, neither of which spoke English. Because of the extreme heat, us three slept outside every night, in the guys’ courtyard, while a light breeze would cool me off.
I met with students from Gihad’s university, Ahfad University, where she is her fourth year as a medical student. I worked from there most days, ironically sticking out as a tall white guy in an all-girls school in Africa. I met many young people interested in the World Faith chapter, and things really solidified when Gihad introduced me to the awesome people of Cafa, a local organization that works on a grassroots level to address issues in Sudan such as AIDS education, peace-building with IDP camps, and training volunteers who are placed in humanitarian projects. After a meeting with Cafa’s Director Yassir Ibrahim, Cafa agreed to host a World Faith Chapter, and has a four-person committee working on how to develop the project, while I am working on promoting the volunteer base.
I feel like I am missing so much but it was one of those experiences, which has some many details, such as my new Sudanese friends, one of which runs an ad agency and I went into a meeting with him, when I should I stayed quiet I instead proposed that this construction company think big, using buildsudan.com (which they bought that day). Or the wedding I went to, where I spent an entire afternoon learning the 50 words necessary to greet a Sudanese person properly (the greetings go on and on, it’s great!). Too much occurred in this period to full articulate, so I guess this is just an ambiguous post…
In other news, I am 3 weeks away from returning to the states. Unless we get funding between now and then, I will have to begin jobhunting… time to start preparing my resumé. L