Women’s World 2011 – I’ll be working at this event in Ottawa from 3-7 July. Hope to see you here!
Thought I’d post a few of my faves!
The long 23 hour journey back to Canada is over and my body is recovering. My first visit to Africa is complete. The South Sudan Referendum results are expected within the next few weeks. Depending on the result, a lot of hard work will be forthcoming. Here’s the EU’s preliminary statement http://www.eueom.eu/files/pressreleases/english/preliminary-statement-17012011_en.pdf Pictures to come as soon as I download them!
Last day of referendum observing is around the corner. After that..counting the ballots and watching the process of democracy complete its circle.
Took a ferry across the White Nile River today. The ferry will become extinct next month when the new bridge opens between Al Dwaim and the mainland. Turns out the bridge is being built with Chinese labour, and Chinese money on behalf of the Government of Sudan. Just one more example of how the Chinese have quietly infiltrated Africa…for its resources and food supplies. One of these days more will be written about this.
All is going well here in Sudan. Just tired…long hours, lots of driving. But that’s nothing. I heard that some people in Southern Sudan walked over 20 kms overnight arriving at the polling station at 5 am to vote in this referendum. And once there, the long line-ups sometimes prevent them from voting that day. My tiredness is just a small insignificance when compared to the momentous piece of history in the making here in Sudan.
It’s the day before the referendum and all through the north
People are stirring, expecting the worst
They’ve packed up their goods, their front door, their beds
And wait for the trucks to bring them to safety
To their families, their tribes, their people.
And the sun shines hot on the red parched earth.
With only 3% or 117,000 voters in the North of the over 3.7 million registered, those of us in the North know that the referendum will not be won or lost by the people voting in this region. What is important is to ensure that voting takes place in a fair and democratic manner. Any separation would require 60% of all votes needed.
The big story for us here is that many people in the North are returning to their traditional lands or homes fearful of consequences as a result of the vote. Kosti is a city of about 200,000 about 4 hours south of Khartoum that is in the crossroads of migration east and west as well as north and south through the river system. The city of Kosti and its neighbour Rabak are the transit and distribution points for the whole country and there is a whole infrastructure devoted to the movement of goods and people. Many Sudanese are passing through this town on their way back home.
Pictures are not allowed to be taken in this country but imagine large open bed trucks piled high to overflowing almost tipping with its load of furniture, bikes, and bed frames and headboards. The ones I’ve seen drive in convoys of 5-10 trucks. An amazing sight. These trucks are not as brightly decorated as those in Pakistan but truckers take pride in their vehicles by washing them daily by the side of the road.
More to follow when possible.
We’re being deployed today into the field. It’ll be a long day full of travel, reading, briefings and perhaps some courtesy calls. More later.
Soon I’ll be flying to Sudan with the rest of the European Union team to observe the North/South referendum. I’ll be one of two short-term Canadian observers gathering in Khartoum for our briefing and further deployment in the country.
I’m thrilled that the other Canadian observer is a buddy of mine from the Lebanon elections in 2005 or was it 2007? It’ll be great to get caught up on all our news over the past little while.
We’ll have time…it’s going to be a long, long trip from Canada to Sudan.
It’s been a great ride – six months of wonderful adventures and amazing people, sights and sounds in Pakistan and the Maldives. I’ll start up another blog for my next adventure somewhere in the world! But for now, I’m back in Ottawa and back to my life as an international communications consultant. Thanks everyone for reading and for all your wonderful comments. They were so nice to read half way around the world. I leave you with some photos that cap off my trip.
Life and love, Judith
There is just less than a day left before I return to Canada and mark the official end of my Pakistan posting. My return back to my life as an international consultant in Ottawa after being away for six months will be fraught with sadness for having left a great posting and amazing people but also happiness to see my Canadian friends and family again.
I’m sure to write one last time and perhaps post some last pictures.