Notes from South Sudan: Coming Home to Wau

 Board president glenn M. Balch, jr., lynn malooly, salva dut and board member anne turner

Board president glenn M. Balch, jr., lynn malooly, salva dut and board member anne turner

The following is the second in a series of blog posts, entitled "Notes from South Sudan", by Lynn Malooly (left), Executive Director of Water for South Sudan. She and several other WFSS team members traveled to South Sudan in March 2018. Look for more stories from her in the coming months.

After a few days in the capital city of Juba we flew to Wau, the second largest city in South Sudan, and our travels took us deeper into the country.  With a population of about 150,000, Wau was unlike any city I had ever seen. Many residents live in simple mud and grass huts. The main roads are dirt and as we drove we navigated around pot holes, cows, goats, and people. People walk everywhere, and a lucky few get around by bicycle. Our local team met us at the airport and faces came alive as I met, in person for the first time, some of our local managers. We were also met with the heat. Salva reminded us over and over to wear our hats and stay hydrated. He told us that we needed to sweat—it was our bodies’ way to keep cool, and stave off heatstroke. And so we sweated… all the time.  Water bottles became our constant companions.

 WFSS cooks Alic and Becky in their soon to be old kitchen.

WFSS cooks Alic and Becky in their soon to be old kitchen.

We came home to the WFSS compound in Wau, the heart of our work in South Sudan and were delighted to meet more of our team. The compound was a busy scene, filled with vehicles, equipment and team members, including the compound dog, Blessing. We sat down to the first of many home-cooked meals, all served outside.

We were impressed with the hard work of the entire WFSS team, but especially our cooks. The women toil every day, making breakfast, lunch and dinner for all of our team members. A small shack serves as their kitchen where they prepare meals, which they then cook outside over charcoal and wood fires on the ground. When we expressed our admiration, Salva told us that when there is a job opening, often 100 women will line up outside our compound. WFSS is a very desirable job opportunity, especially for women. Those of us who have the luxury of cooking in the US urged our team to move the construction of a simple new kitchen to a high priority item.

While there, US Operations Support Coordinator Gary Prok assisted the team as they brought our first drilling rig back online. This small rig can now be used as back-up, for local drilling, and as a training rig for team members ready to learn and grow. We witnessed the administrative work of our team, working in small offices, with just ceiling fans to move the hot air around. We also experienced the internet in South Sudan—a miracle that it’s there, and certainly not the lightning speed we were used to back home.

We spent four days in the compound, including numerous meetings under the shade of trees in the 100+ degree heat, reviewing operations and job descriptions, and planning for the future.

 WFSS compound at sunset

WFSS compound at sunset

 country directors aj and lion with operations support coordinator gary prok

country directors aj and lion with operations support coordinator gary prok

Next up, we would travel into the field, to witness the work of WFSS.