Though tired, we are safe and healthy.
We’ve been very active in our filming here in Sudan. It’s amazing the things we’ve been able to capture. We just recently returned from a trip to Juba (capital of southern Sudan). We were there for a total of 3 days. It is a long and bumpy drive to Juba from Yei; Approximately 4 hours each way but only about 60 miles.
Juba is an interesting city. Since the CPA (Comprehensive Peace Agreement) was signed in 2005, both the north and south have agreed on a shared government within the city. There are both northern and southern soldiers there in the city. This also means that there are people who both support the CPA and who don’t support the CPA. This makes for a very crowded and somewhat hostile environment. We were there as guests of the southern Sudanese government so we were transported in government vehicles and had a special guard with us the entire time. However, there were a couple of hostile situations. William and I climbed the side of a mountain to get a panoramic view of Juba and soon found stones being thrown our way. Evidently, a man at the base of the mountain didn’t want to be filmed. A simple “please don’t film me” would have been nice, but I suppose he lacked those words in the English vocabulary.
We conducted some very impressive interviews while there- So much so that the BBC news thought it was worthy enough to mention it on their broadcast. We’re told that we’re the only film crew in history to travel to Juba/Yei and carry out this sort of business. A few figures we interviewed were Rebecca Garrang’s (John Garrang’s widow), Pagum A’mum (secreterial general of the SPLA) and the speaker of the Parliament- William. We had the president of southern Sudan, Salva Kirr, lined up, but he had to travel to Khartoum at the last moment. There’s a chance we’ll interview him later this week or next trip?
Upon leaving Juba, we stopped to see the memorial site of John Garrang. This was a very powerful moment for us all. As we were leaving the city, a mine exploded not far from the road. We believe this mine was detonated intentionally. There are many many mines still blanketing much of southern Sudan. It is a very dangerous place to go wandering around. This is a perfect example. Danger can also be found on the roads of Sudan. During our journey back, we found an 8 ft. cobra crossing the road. A very impressive scene!
Now that we’re back in Yei, we’ve continued our business here. We’re conducting our character documentation at this time. Today, we focused on a family that is HIV positive. This area of focus will cater to Sudan’s need of medicine/medical awareness. The rest of the week we will be focusing on the areas of water, schooling and church growth (the church is at the center of Sudan’s rebuilding).
Water purification has been coming along great. Its been a bit slower than we expected, however, it is the first experiment of this kind here in Yei/southern Sudan so there’s much grace to be had. We have found that the river people draw from here is very contaminated. It is riddled with diseases that plague so many people. This is the leading cause of death in southern Sudan. Bad water = disease. Disease = death. Unfortunately, this tragic scenario claims the lives of mostly children, Sudan’s innocence.
We will be training several leaders in the community within the next few days on how to purify (teach a man how to fish, right!).There are already future trips being planned in introducing a larger activity of water purification here in southern Sudan. Very exciting!
The project “Dear Sudan” has been going well. We have not played it since Juba so we’ve taken a bit of a break. We aired the short film in the town center-Freedom Square-prior to leaving for Juba. We felt like it was a successful showing; Only a few hecklers. The local authority enjoyed pre-viewing the film so much that they advertised it on the local radio program (Liberty FM). Throughout the evening, an estimated 300-400 people watched the film. Several men and women stuck around afterwards and expressed their gratitude. This was very encouraging.
We’ve received all the disposable cameras back. We will be handing out candy and interviewing the children today who took part in the camera project. The children were very excited throughout the whole project. It is coming along just as planned- Very similar to the project I did back in 2005. I can’t wait to see the images these children captured.
Thank you for checking the updates! We’ll try and update again within the next day or two. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers. We’re over half way there in the trip. We deeply miss our loved ones back in the states. We’re undergoing a heavy burden here and feel it each day. We’re excited to be here, however, the weight and importance of it all can be very taxing. Thank you for your support.
Much love and until next time….. those serving in Sudan.