Trying to navigate through the
soggy loam and hugh puddles.
Return to Old Fangak!
Finally, the sisters are in their house in Old Fangak! The building was finished in April but they had to stay in Juba longer than anticipated due to difficulties in getting passports and visas. What was originally planned to be a two-week stay in Juba extended to more than two months! However, the longer stay did provide time for rest and renewal.
On Wednesday, June 9, the sisters went to the airport early in the morning. The first flight was to Rumbek, a trip of about 40 minutes. Next was a two-hour trip by helicopter to Old Fangak. As they approached the airstrip, they could see that the entire airstrip was under water. After circling over the place, the helicopter left without landing. At first, the sisters hoped there would be a better place to land nearby. But they realized they were on their way to New Fangak, about 30 minutes away. They were advised to return to Rumbeck but had no idea what they would do there. How would they get from New Fangak to Old Fangak if not by flight? Impossible.
One man left the helicopter and hoped for a boat maybe the next day. All other passengers with Old Fangak as a destination also decided to leave. The sisters were going into the unknown, as they had no idea how to proceed. They asked several women to carry their luggage on their heads. A man brought them to a place with internet connection so they could try to contact someone in Old Fangak. One the way, they walked, tried to stay balanced and not slip through the wet loam and huge puddles. Quickly, their sandals were covered with mud. It was impossible even to lift their shoes up as they were glued to the earth. The children laughed at this scene as the sisters tried in vain to lift their heavy feet. Finally, they went barefoot and carried their dirty sandals in their hands. After a long 20 minutes, they arrived at the Nile and the NPA (Norwegian Person’s Aid) compound.
Two men from Doctors Without Borders also arrived. Their organization had sent a boat to New Fangak. The sisters and two other persons would use that boat to reach their destination. It took three hours on the river with the motor boat.
Instead of noon, the sisters arrived at 5:00 pm. They were overjoyed to see Samuel, the Comboni’s guard, coming in gumboots through the water. He put one suitcase on his shoulder and sent other men and women to carry the rest of the luggage.
The sisters learned that it had rained so strongly that many huts were flooded. When they had last seen the Comboni compound two months earlier, it was dusty and dry. Now they saw a big lake with houses around it and much green. What a difference! The joy of those who welcomed them was overwhelming, as was the first sight of their kitchen. All the boxes with food items purchased in Juba for the coming year and shipped by boat were piled up in the room. Because they had nothing at hand to eat, they just enjoyed the welcoming cake and an apple for each.
The next day they started to sort through the chaos, placing the contents of many boxes on shelves in the storage room and cleaning cupboards. In between, they greeted visitors who came to welcome them. In the evening, they had their first warm meal cooked on the stove. Slowly, the house is beginning to feel like home.
Now settled they are ready to work in school.