It has been a couple of days since we were last able to journal on the web. It has been a very busy few days! The last time we updated you, we had just entered in Africa via Nairobi. We randomly chose a hotel in downtown Nairobi and randomly ran into our good friend Valentino Achak Deng. Insane, we know…
We are now back in Nairobi. This was not our original plan. Originally, it was our plan to only stay in Nairobi for 1 night, then leave for Kakuma refugee camp and stay there for 2 nights. We planned to film there inside the camp and show the film “Dear Sudan”.
We boarded our small 18 passenger plane in Nairobi for a short flight into the town of Loki, Kenya. This town is about 1 hour away from the refugee camp of Kakuma. We did meet our contacts there once exiting off of the plane. Things were going as planned. We began our trek to Kakuma along the road. It is a nicely paved road from the poor town of Loki to the even poorer town of Kakuma. Along the way, we crossed many dangerous rivers with high running water. Many 4 wheel drive vehicles were getting stuck before and after us. Just a day prior, 2 people died when trying to cross the river. Their land cruiser became too immersed in the high water. They flipped and drowned. We saw the vehicle and the Kenyan police looking for the bodies. It was a sad scene. Fortunately for us, our driver was an experienced “river crosser” (if there is such thing). We managed to get across after surveying the scene. On the other side of the river, many locals demanded money because they had laid rocks and branches to help with the traction. It almost got ugly, but we managed to pay them quickly and be on our way.
We finally entered into the town of Loki. We saw the refugee camp from a distance. We visited the first security office and were granted permission to enter into the camp, however, there are several levels of security that you must go through. Of recently, many things are changing within the camp. This goes for any media personnel as well. We went to the second office to gain access into the camp and were denied at the time being. We tried very hard to get in but were without luck. We ended up staying overnight at a hotel (instead of the guarded camp). The 4 of us, and our guide, stayed at a hotel in the middle of the town. This was a time to debrief and figure out what our course of action would be for the morning. We decided to try once more, and if all else failed, we’d head back to Loki to try and catch an earlier flight back to Nairobi. The next morning came and I desperately tried to call everyone I knew who might pull some strings for us. We visited the camp managers office again and discussed with him the reasons for our visit. He agreed to let us in, but without the video equipment. We (of course) were ok with this since it was a foot in the door. He lead us to the security gate to the camp and then left us there. After a while, the guards told us to leave. It was a very frustrating moment for us, however, we trusted that God knew what He was doing. We began our journey back to Loki to fly out.
I must say, our time in Kakuma was not in vain. It was not a waste. We captured some great footage of the exterior of the camp. We also managed to interview some people there who are doing great work in southern Sudan. We ate lunch in a UN compound which was a great experience. We saw many things and felt like the trip was worth it. Plus, Kakuma was a small portion of our scripting agenda. We did not feel defeated, just a little frustrated.
We are now back in Nairobi. We had dinner with our friend Valentino tonight at a wonderful restraurant called “Carnivore”. Fitting for Africa. We will be interviewing him in the morning as well as a famous bishop who does great work in southern Sudan. All of this would not have happened if we were still in Kakuma. Things have a way of working out.
Tomorrow we are on our way to Entebbe where we will then fly to Yei. This will end our journey in Kenya and begin our journeys in Sudan. Thank you for all your many prayers. We feel the strength of our supporters back home.
We will update you as much as we can and when we can. Please stay posted! Much love.