Journal of the People’s Pastor

“Writing The History I’ve Lived, Living The History I Write!”

DARFUR DIARY

Part IV: Darfur Diary – My Journey to Juba



Monday, December 3, 2007 continue…

After disembarking from the plane, we made our way through the huge airport terminal to the transit area. While waiting for our next scheduled departure at 10:45am, I walked through the airport, gazing into the gift shops. There were beautiful traditional apparel, creative art work both paintings and woodwork; and there were restaurants and bars. The airport was clean, modern and spacious.

When boarding time arrived, to our surprise, we were denied entrance to the plane. We did not have visas. We were told, before we left the states, that every thing was taken care of in Juba, which was probably correct, but we were not in Juba. We were in Addis Ababa. After arguing with three different managers or supervisors, we made no progress. We missed our flight. This meant that it would be Wednesday before we could get another flight. The final manager we talked to, turned out to be a very pleasant, patient, courteous female. She invited us to her office. She made arrangements for our visas in Ethiopia. (Since we had to stay two days, visas were necessary). She gave us vouchers to the hotel, including three (3) meals a day, and a car to transport us to the Sudan Mission for our visas, then to the hotel.

On the way to the Sudan Mission, we called Yahya. (We had been talking to him via telephone all during the time we were arguing with the managers. He tried to explain why we did not need a visa. He said we were American citizens and did not need visas in Juba.) Yahya said emphatically, do not go to the Sudan Mission. He had called the South Sudan Mission. They would meet us at the hotel with the necessary papers.

The young man assigned to us, named Wingell, very personable, refused to take us anywhere but to the Sudanese Mission. Those were his orders and he would get in trouble if he did otherwise. After trying to convince him that we were not going to the Mission but to the Hotel, and after he had made several calls to his superiors and even after speaking directly to Yahya, he relented and took us to the hotel.

It was 3:30pm when we arrived at the hotel named, Simein. It sat on a busy four-lane street. It was about seven story high. Inside, the reception area was sandwiched by a spacious restaurant and a lounge with a bar. There were old plush chairs and an internet station off from the lounge.

Room 214 on the second floor was assigned to me. The room was small, but clean. There was a shower with a bathtub. There was a 9-inch TV that had two English speaking channels. I chose CNN.

There was a small veranda to my room, looking out onto the street. After unpacking or settling in (there was not a lot of unpacking to do, our suitcases had gone to Juba), we went downstairs for lunch. The neatly dressed green jacketed, black trousers or dress wearing, waiters, were polite and efficient. Two plates of food were sat before us. Meat, rice and veggies. I sent mines back and requested only veggies.

Afterward, I walked the streets for about 45 minutes. Returned to the hotel and went back to the restaurant around 7:30pm for dinner. I had the green salad and cooked veggies. I returned to my room to complete the day.
Standing on the veranda, studying the moving crowd, Calcutta, India, came to my mind. I stood on a similar veranda in a similar hotel many years before. I looked out on the scene below. Here were the same dirty streets and tattered clothed humans moving slowly. Across the streets, citizens made ready to spend the night on the sidewalk. The only difference between this night and the night in Calcutta was the absence of prostate bodies pulling cardboards and ragged old dirty clothes over their bodies. I was sure somewhere in this city there were homeless people returning to their sidewalk spots for the night.

With feelings of gratitude and sadness, I snuggled beneath the warm, clean sheets and blankets on a soft bed and fell asleep.

To be continued…

Upcoming Events

Attend the Timbuktu Learning Center’s weekly Thursday Night Community Forums. All Forums are held at the House of the Lord Church from 7pm to 9pm.

The Timbuktu Learning Center presents A Community Forum on Mortgage Foreclosures, Predatory Lending Debt Restructuring, Thursday, January 10, 2008, at the House of the Lord Church from 7pm to 9pm.

On Thursday, January 31, 2008, at 7pm, The Brotherhood Department of the House of the Lord Church, during the Timbuktu Learning Center’s Thursday Night Community Forum, will sponsor The Screening of a Documentary entitled “Another Look at Egypt,” presented by Professor Clinton Crawford of Medgar Evers College.

Attend a Rally of Support for the Sean Bell Family, on Sunday, February 3, 2008, 5pm at the House of the Lord Church. We will also be mobilizing for the upcoming trail starting February 4th.

Attend NRLAA’s monthly forum Focus on Africa the 2nd Saturday from 2pm to 4pm.

Organizing Meetings regarding Darfur every Thursday - 12noon @ the House of the Lord Church.

Keep abreast of our Darfurian activities by checking our web page @ www.holnj.org.

For further Information on all events, contact The House of the Lord Church @ (718) 596-1991.