I am finally feeling somewhat back to normal--I flipped the calendar from November to January!--and now I'm ready to talk about one of the more heartening experiences I had in Kakuma. While I was waiting in Lodwar for the plane to Nairobi, I chatted with a gentleman--a former Lost Boy who is now a U.S. citizen--who travels around to test students in refugee camps. The high performers, he told me, are given scholarships to Nairobi University.
This is his wonderful blog (I am the woman he mentions, who took a shower four time a day!) ... please check it out: http://sudanscholarship.com/
I had, in fact, met one of the scholarship students at a restaurant in the camp. My friend and guide, William, can and did talk to anyone about anything, and he struck up a conversation with some Sudanese young men who were sitting at the table next to us. The conversation was mainly about this week's referendum, in which the South is voting whether or not to declare independence from the North. I was stunned by how articulate and informed the young men were. The conversation took place in English and Sudanese and I sometimes had trouble following it, but what I did determine was there is hope for South Sudan if these are its potential leaders.
Will you go back to Sudan after the referendum? my guide, William, asked.
East west ... one of the young men replied.
Home's best, William said, completing his sentence.
My chance meeting with Daniel at the airstrip was also heartening for another reason. Misery loves company. We talked a little about the conditions in Kakuma and agreed that it was hot.
He had been staying at the Guest House too and had seen me going to the shower several times a day to wet myself down.
I had a little trouble with the heat, I admitted.
You could die in heat like this, he said kindly.
I know, I said, because I think I almost did.
It meant a lot to me that someone who had lived in the camp for several years agreed that conditions there are tough. It didn't make me any less plump, white and Midwestern, but it helped.