Good to be back on this blog in a travel sense of experiences, learning, perspectives, reflection and discovery. This one is a big reflection one 🙂
I’m currently back on the Stop Transmission of Polio (STOP) program for the second time. Previously I was in Uganda for 7 months in 2013 working with UNICEF and you can see a realm of blogs here from that time. This time I am in South Sudan working with the World Health Organisation and UNICEF for 4 months.
25 Feb was day two of the National Immunisation Day (NID) for polio which usually lasts 3-4 days, and in the case of South Sudan they have these campaigns four times a year.
Here is more of a pictorial edition of events from the day as I think the pictures do justice on the incredible work, efforts and challenges the people face as well as the tireless work of vaccinators and healthcare workers.
My reflection at the end of the day having been back out on the ground and integrated with African life once again was this:
I am sure to replay this day back slowly for a while… It was a great day in the field and tapping into the intimate and raw substance of humanity when you interact and learn from people who live with very little in the most human way I can imagine – for good and bad, actually mostly bad.
I always tend to look into a mirror of myself on theses days thinking if I was born and grew up in the wild with nothing as a primitive animal. I certainly wouldn’t degrade and dehumanise the people I meet who live in poverty in Africa but the reflection that hits me is how far removed from being human I am when in the west and how artificial we can make life with everything except humanity.
As for the way of life here in South Sudan I don’t want to patronise the people here and I know I will never have to face the challenges of hunger, sickness and resilience as many of them do here daily but I am moved by a lot by people here, I admire them in an uncomfortable way of me getting all the benefit of their way of life and them not have the access and privilege I have.
I’m inspired by people here and deeply saddened, confused and guilted because I am the one who has the upper hand on the interaction most of the time because I am the one who can choose simplicity and good health care when I want where I want.
I can only endeavor to live more human from all I learn from this place and these wonderful people and to try and be of service for them to have access and opportunity to at least the basics in life and be able to make decisions like clean water AND medicine, not clean water OR medicine.
It is almost impossible for me to explain the nourishment I get from these experiences almost at the expense of the people I get them from but I don’t know how to be humble, appreciative and not patronising at the same time so I hope you get the gist of my words and the bottom line for me is: I (and I think the west) has more to learn from the people here in South Sudan and most of Africa about living than we do ‘helping’ them…
I wouldn’t miss the opportunity to experience and learn from these days and these programs. Sorry I was going to go light and fluffy with a few pictures but seems my head is elsewhere…