Planning for Khartoum

I received replies to my initial questions about living in Khartoum, some are challenging.

AC? No but an air cooler and fans. My reply will be to ask what is the difference between and air cooler and air conditioning.

Internet access? No, but internet cafes nearby.

Sudanese cash is needed to pay for everything, but I can change dollars into the local currency in Khartoum, different than Juba.

Utility costs? $15/month for water and $35/month for electricity.

I will need to pay a cleaner $150/month to clean 3 times a week, "necessary with Khartoum dust".

The rent is usually $550/month, the responsibility of the Province.

The immediate neighbors are friendly, but very little English. On the plus side, I will be living close to a Swedish NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) called IAS who are very helpful and friendly and have been in Khartoum a long time.

Weekly food costs? Vegetables from the local market vary in price with the season. For instance, 1kg of tomatoes run $1-$2. Eating out is more like European prices. Since my reference point is US, I have no idea what that means and will have to ask.

The dog gets his meat cooked. Cute, no cans.

Commute? She usually drives, not me. There is a direct bus, though I might be able to arrance for the office to pick me up each day. I think I will take advantage of this.

Flight to Juba? $230 each way, but available for $100 through WFP. Need to ask what WFP means.

Flight to Egypt to see pyramids? Well there are more pyramids in Sudan than Egypt, though Egypt's are bigger. This I did not know. Return ticket cost $480.


Web Album

For those of you who wish to see more pictures, please go to:


Good Luck. I will attempt to find a way to add the address to the blog.



During the writer's strike, Steven Colbert told a story a couple of days past the New Hampshire primary. It went something like this: Did you see who won last night? You know the woman with short blonde hair, the one who likes to wear pant suites? If your mind went where mine did, where Steven wanted it to go, then you were thinking Hillary Clinton. It's election time, of course that's the answer. Of course it was not. The answer was Ellen DeGeneres, following the People's Choice Awards.

It was Super Bowl Sunday, (Go Giants) and I was privileged to see Senator Barack Obama in Rodney Square in Wilmington. Emotions were flying high, the crowd loved every minute of it.
The election brought close to home.

I had expected to leave some of this hype behind when I traveled to Sudan. It was not to be. Every morning, every place, every newspaper, the world was following 0ur election. Mostly they were following the Democratic race, between Senators Obama and Clinton. And, everyone had an opinion. And, they voiced it. I was expected to voice mine as well. Political discussion without rancor. What fun.

However, that was not the election that deserved the most attention. Instead, it was the election to decide the new Archbishop of The Episcopal Church of the Sudan. I was excited to be labeled an "Observer" to this process which was similar but so different than the election that took place ten years ago in our diocese.

There was a Chancellor to preside, a secretary to the process, delegates with voice and vote, and those of us that watched. Same there, same here. In our process, the election took 16 votes and two days. In Sudan, one hour and one vote.

Seventy-five delegates were allowed to vote and the winner needed two-thirds or 50 votes. After the first ballot, the leader had 39 votes, the next two 21 and 15. Brief discussions and then, the other two removed their names from the process and threw their support behind the first place finisher. It was over. The Rt. Rev. Daniel Deng was now the Archbishop elect. Pandemonium.

Everyone rushed forward, eager to embrace and congratulate. Bishop Deng's wife came forward. Lots of pictures were taken, songs sung, cheers.



I have a pretty predictable routine leading into the nighttime hours. The moment I come through the garage door, shoes come off, pocketbook goes on the kitchen island, book bag sits in the chair, cats get fed, work clothes off and grunges come on. Then TV on. Usually, one of the Law & Order shows until Countdown comes on. Maybe I'll eat, maybe not. Playing with the cats is a given, but only if they permit it.

The night sounds in my neighborhood are honking horns, or squealing brakes as drivers take the corner too quickly. In the summer, kids playing street hockey, basketball, bikes, swimming and that infernal ice-cream truck. And lawnmowers, leaf blowers, edgers. Lots of noise. Winter has snow blowers.

It is near impossible to hear nature in the suburbs.

However, in Africa it was similar but still different.

I had my routine. Come through the hotel room door, kick off my shoes, and take a shower. The heat and dust from the day disappeared first. A special comment, in Juba the shower was a trickle and sometimes the water disappeared before the soap was all off. I learned to shower quickly. Then I'd change into grunges.

In Kampala, I would watch BBC news, CNN or Al Jezeera. They even had the Disney Channel and Friends. In Juba, the TV did not work. So it was quiet. I read a lot. Local newspapers, the latest John Grisham novel, my African guide book. In Kampala, the Internet connection was in the room, wireless. In Juba, a computer room was available, pay as you go. I usually used it in the morning when I was dressed appropriately in skirt and shirt.

I went to bed early. The heat and dust of Juba was exhausting, no matter how exhilarating the day had been.

In Kampala there are two routines performed each night by the staff. The first would be the turning down of the bed and plumping of the pillows. Then two gentlemen staffers would appear and get the windows ready for the evening. They would spray around the inside of the windows to protect against mosquitoes and then close the curtains.

In Juba, I lowered the mosquito netting, turned down my own covers, set the alarm and then listened. It was never really dark in my room, there was a perimeter light right outside my bedroom window.

The first couple of nights I thought there were children playing outside my window in the field next door. I worried, the noises sounded frantic. My imagination was in overdrive. I learned the noises were made by goats and sheep. I heard birds and crickets. Lots of people moving around in the courtyard, TV playing long into the night.

But there were also smells. I kept smelling things burn. The first night I was worried something in the room was on fire. Then I worried about it being outside the window or door. It was not until the third night that I realized that it was the nightly burning of trash. Everyone burns trash at night. In the mornings, the remains are swept up in the courtyard along with the nightly layer of dust. You see remnants on every road, every yard. And they burn everything together. Plastic bottles and aluminum cans. That definitely cannot be good.

I thought I would be able to see the stars. But in Kampala, there were the lights of the city. In Juba, mosquitoes.

Maybe I will get to see them in Khartoum.

Moses' Travels

Here is Moses hiding in the flowering tree outside of the internet cafe located next to the Cathedral. This is the building with the blue door. No Starbucks here.

This is not what living in the bush means. Moses has a dry sense of humor.

Later that afternoon, Moses decided that the best way of avoiding the roaming goats was to sit higher up in the tree.

This is Moses' lunchtime buddy. They would meet each day and Moses would be taught a few Dinka Arabic words. Once too often, Moses was found wandering where he should not be and was returned by the local Canadian peacekeeping forces. It seems that this gentleman alone could speak Moses' language.

Here is Moses riding look out in the front of a truck on the only paved road in Juba. All other times, Moses would fall down after the first bump.And here is Moses' namesake, his favorite driver
Moses waits for church services to start at All Saint's Cathedral in Juba, Sudan.

Moses has had so much fun, he cannot wait to return in May.


The World At Work

I have safely returned from my initial foray into Africa. Those among us that use the Philadelphia Airport will not be surprised to learn that the only holdup on my return flight was from Detroit to Philadelphia. Too much traffic in the skies around Philadelphia.

Over the next few entries, I will be posting pictures and information about individuals whose vocation/ministry/assignment is to assist the people of Southern Sudan, especially around Juba, in rebuilding their country. Note the word assist. I intentionally did not state they would build for them. Everyone I spoke with, their goal was to enable, train, empower the southern Sudanese people. They want to make the decisions about how their nation will look, how they will educate, and govern.

In this picture, Anne C. (Katie) Rhoads, MD, FACS, DTMH is speaking with her associate during one the break times.

Katie is from Kansas and two years ago felt called to start a ministry of instructing proper surgery techniques. The name of her organization is the Uganda/Sudan Medical Mission and it works closely with The Episcopal Church of Sudan. Katie gave me tips on how to live in Sudan, how to find assistance, where different compounds are located, as well as contact information.

Katie also gave me a long list of reading assignments. She told me where to get current news in America about Sudan on the internet. Here is some of what she offered, all of which are available at www.amazon.com:

Emma's War by Deborah Scroggins which in 1988 was made into a movie called Fortunes of War starring Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh.

What is the What by Dave Eggers that is only one story about "the lost boys of Sudan".

Cry of the Owl by Francis Mading Deng an elder Sudanese statesman who is currently at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland.

Two books by Allan Moorehead titled The White Nile and The Blue Nile, which tells the background of the discovery of the source of the Nile and has a lot about the 19th century history of the Sudan.

If you are interested in current events, try www.newsudanvision.com


Wednesday AM, February 13

This is my first view of the inside of the Cathedral the next morning during the retreat prior to the election the next day. The retreat is being led by the Rt. Rev. Dr. David Stancliffe, Bishop of Salisbury - Church of England.

The gentleman below frantically looking for a pen is Emmanuel Sserwadda from the Church Center. He has been my contact prior to the trip and is with me now. He will leave me on Sunday morning to go visit his father. Emmanuel was born in Uganda but has lived in the states for the past 20 years. Emmanuel is next speaking with The Rev. John Malesh stationed in the support office in Kampala. He is the Country Director for HIV/AIDS, TB & Malaria.

Finally, a chance to take pictures of the front of the church during a break. Then, this little boy who usually sat in front of me and whose father is a Bishop. He is a sweetie and his older brother and I became best friends.

The First Stop in JUba

This first picture is taken from the steps of the Cathedral in Juba after our arrival and before heading to the left where among a grove of trees we will eat lunch.

This wonderful gentleman is the priest that I met waiting to board the airport at Entebbe, Rev. Samuel Enosa Peni from Tambio Diocese. He is a wonderful human being, a caring priest, Loving father and husband. He told me that he was born in September, but that the date was uncertain. His father said the 13th, his uncle the 14th, since his uncle had the watch. I asked why not take the word of his mother? He was born in the bush country and she was a little busy at the time.

The third picture is of the Bangladesh UN Peacekeepers that were escorting a representative of UNICEF to the Cathedral, a gentleman who is shown sideways (I am learning, have patience.

Pictures from Journey's start

Here is Moses (named after my driver in Juba) the snowman leaving from Philly, in the cockpit of the KLM jet to Amsterdam and then in the garden in from of my hotel in Kampala.

You then have two pictures of the Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala, where I am at the moment, having left Sudan and busy putting pictures in the blog.



February 12, 2008 continued;

OK, the plane ride on Ugandan Air is better than KLM. Took less than one hour.

So what will Juba be like? Listening to friends and family I imagine that it might be a bit like our old wild west, but AK47's rather than Colt 45's. And we are landing at high noon.

As we taxi back to the terminal, we pass fallen and disgarded aircraft, helicopters, trucks all a reminder of the past 21 years of war. But there are no guns, no armies, just UN and UNICEF. People are lovely and hospitable. Quit worrying.

The terminal. Imagine a turn of the century out post that has one building, maybe Havana, and every process is done by hand and slowly. I have discovered Sudanese time. There are no watching the clocks. Everyone is in a hurry to wait. Mass confusion getting visa's and passports processed.

Then our driver shows up. All of these vehicles are cross-terrains and needed now. Traveling from the airport, we navigate around large ravines that would swallow my Aveo. There is only one paved road in Juba and it leads to my hotel, The South Sudan. I wish every meeting met along this road. But of course not.

The people are wonderful that greet us. The room, is African and I will be sleeping under a net during the night. Romantic in the US, ncessary to live in Sudan.

There is no time for a shower, we are off to the Cathedral. We arrive at lunch time around 1 PM. Everyone sits under trees. You must wash hands with soap prior to eating and then get in line. Lots of water to drink. Met lots of people. Cathedral is really pretty.

I have been told that May - August is the rainy season. You can only travel when it is not raining. My house must be close to where I will work. So instead of dust, there will be mud. No sandles, but "wellies"

More later and I promise pictures. But they will have to wait until I get back to Kampala to upload.

Grace and Peace.

Kampala to Entebbe

February 12, 2008

Traveling from Kampala to Entebbe airport, I was able to see all of the scenery that I could not see when traveling from Entebbe two days ago. There are hundreds of crazy drivers, walkers and bikers. I think it was better in the dark.

Traveling out of town I can see that the housing is made up of cinderblocks, or stones, or bricks, or a combination. People add on where needed. But the colors are the brightest blues, yellows, reds, and greens. And the trees have flowers all over them, pink, yellow, fucia. So beautiful as they sway in the trees. As we continue driving, the number of drivers and businesses decrease and I look out over lush green valleys and meadows. Acres of plantans, pineapples, beans go forever. At one point the Lake is 15 feet away. And there are parks and small hotels that sit by the edge.

Houses appear in the mountains, white stucco with red clay roofs. Like our southwest or Mexico, but GREEN surrounds them. I think that I would prefer to live in Entebbe. The gardening would be the best.

The process for getting out of Uganda is much easier than getting in. While waiting, I met two priests and a Bishop heading over for the election. We started to talk and exchanged business cards. He is the deployment officer and accounts specialist from his diocese. Comrades in Arms.

It looks like we will be taking off over Lake Victoria and the UN storage facilities at Entebbe airport. The lake looks beautiful from the air and so I am off to Juba.

Grace and Peace


At The Source

I have not seen the Nile, but even on the cab ride from the airport in Entebbe the driver remarked about how Uganda and Sudan are the beginning. He can arrange a trip, lots of people go. Too bad, he says, that I have not allowed enough time to see the history and beauty of his country. After the amount of time spent in the air to get here, next flght will allow time. There are botanical gardens, the tombs of the kings, the lake. Lots.

When I remarked about the street light poles that are not lit, he tells me the history about faction fighting and whomever wins decides if they have enough money for the lights or not. So when driving and he cannot see, he flicks repeatedly between high and low beams. But this is done in traffic and to on coming traffic. There are people walking all over the highway, this was at 11 PM last hight, scooters are everywhere and driving wherever they choose. Add the fact they drive on the opposite side of the road and I will not be driving anywhere.

We drove through lots of small communities and towns. Lots of activity even late at night on Sunday. Lots of shops side by side in what looks like our garages. Selling everything. One town we drove through is where all the second hand parts from Japan come to. Japan ships second hand everything to Uganda and then people come from all over to this region buy appliances, bikes, windows. That is all I could see as we zoomed by.

As we arrived at the bottom of the hills in Kampala before we traveled up to the hotel, we had stopped for a light. Three young girls with babies approached the taxi asking for money. Street people they are called. All others traveling in the taxi told me I would have to get used to this. But at this early stage, it tugged at my heart and soul.

Of course, I also paid the driver of the shuttle only to find out in the morning that they had paid his company. In addition, I paid him twice the rate and tipped him for all the information. But take heart, I did this as well in NYC. Seems that I have to learn this lesson on each continent.

The hotel is amazing. I could not get a good idea about the number of people staying here but there are lots working. Everyone apologizes to me when I ask for something. Another custom I will need to get used to.

I am currently wathcing Al Jazeera TV and that I did not expect. I can watch CNN, BBCnews and this. Fascinating. I am sure that what I am watching would not be reported back home.

I am also watching our election results, the pro-bowl on Sunday. Everyone is talking about the US elections. Hearing all their names in German, Dutch, French, tribal, Italian, Arabic is pretty fascinating. Of course, I do not have any idea of what they are saying. Probably a good thing.

Well, it is the evening of the second night and I am trying to get on this time schedule.

Grace and Peace


New Beginnings

This is the first day of the rest of your life.

Catchy phrase. Looks great on posters, greeting cards. Sounds great when you hear it.

There have only been a few days when I believed that this was true. My high school graduation, my wedding, the birth of my daughter. I wept, or seeped as K likes to say, at all of those, like today. But then smiles. I think rainbows should appear around peoples faces as they smile and weep at the same time.

So it begins today traveling to Detroit, Amsterdam, Entebbe and then Juba. And I will be taking a snowman with me. Look for him.




Since last December, I have had to practice keeping secrets. I usually have no problem when they pertain to others, but me, I want to share, and share, and share. Is this a girl/guy thing or a Judi/rest of the world thing. Now everyone can know.

Beginning around May 1, I am taking a four-month sabbatical to Sudan. I will be living and working in Juba in southern Sudan. In order to get ready for this, I will be leaving on Saturday for a 10 day trip. Everything is in place, except for me in my seat on the plane. Lists have been checked, clothes washed, computer, camera, phone all set, cat sitter ready, air borne germ spray and today I bought panic medicine in case the walls of the airplane start to close in. Tomorrow, I get my last shot, meet with the Investment committee, say "See you soon" to colleagues,friends and especially family. My daughter and sister and sister-in-law will be responsible for my emotional fort. My colleagues will take of me spiritually and physically. God has chosen some amazing people for my life. So amazing that I cannot wait to see who is waiting for me on the other side of the planet.

I am asked if I am afraid. If you could see my face you would not entertain that thought. I was just chair dancing to I heard it through the grapevine and Gimme some lovin on The Big Chill CD. I do not think that I am.

The physical things that I will miss: my sleep number bed, my cats, Starbucks, Borders, music and the internet whenever I want it, to name a few. When I return I can elaborate on what I exchanged for them. I have heard a couple of things: generosity and smiles of the people, friendship, different food and drink, cafes to name a few.

What surprises life can bring. Come along with me.


Catching My Breath

Note to self: Remember to get "acceptable" cash to take on trip
Note to self: Pack camera
Note to self: Recharge computer battery and pack adaptors
Note to self: Find correct sized toiletries to take on trip
Note to self: Find books to read, travel pillow, comfortable clothes
Note to self: Pick out traveling carry on bag for trip
Note to self: Pack passport carrier, include airline tickets, driver's license, cash
Note to self: Pack towel and wash cloth
Note to self: Pack Miso soup
Note to self: Wash clothes
Note to self: Get last shot
Note to self: Pack clothes and shoes
Note to self: Make phone calls

Note to self: Breathe.

This will all come together, I will get packed, I will forget something, the trip will go forward, I will return to an unclean house.

Note to self: Do not clean house


I am exhausted. Today packed more emotional activity into one day then has been the case in a while. And all of it GREAT.

This morning began with Carnival Sunday at church. Great music (jazz, Italian, Hispanic, taize, spiritual), costumes and revelry as we head into Lent. Furthermore, I get to wear the beads for two more days. Unless you are a child or clown, the beads usually hang around a bedpost or mirror until called into action the same time each liturgical year. Meaning for me: remember today, it will come around on Easter Sunday. HOPE.

Just when I thought I was heading home, I walked uptown with friends to hear Barack Obama speaking in the square. What energy! Singing, cheering, screaming, applauding, you name it. It was there. People from every walk in life, every age, every economic condition, every race. I stood next to an interviewer from Japan, chatted with a reporter from Britain and Ireland, spoke with commentators from Countdown (with Keith Olbermann), producers from ABC TV. For those of us afraid of crowds check out the great pictures and video at www.delawareonline.com Listen to the man. There was the message again..HOPE with an additional inspiration of YES WE CAN.

Which leads into my emotional evening. I am a New Yorker. I am a Giant fan. And I am proud of my New York Giants. I had HOPE and I thought YES THEY CAN. And it came true. Whoopee.

What a buzz by 11 PM tonight. I cannot sleep. So, I am blogging. Is this therapeutic? Will I be able to sleep after writing this down?

One can only HOPE.