Thursday, April 23, 2009

Finding My Motivation

A few weeks ago, I found out that I was selected for a fellowship with Catholic Relief Services, meaning that my time with my current organization will be coming to end at the end of June. It makes being here challenging, knowing I have something much better coming down the line.

Earlier this week I learned a bit more detail about the position with CRS, and it looks like I'll be moving to Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon, beginning in August. After working in Chad, northern Uganda, Niger, and southern Sudan, the thought of being based in a big green city, with mountains, nice restaurants and more is pretty exciting.

For the moment though I'm here, and I'm trying not to let the challenges weigh me down too much. It's mostly little stuff, but when it's all lumped together, the frustration builds. The heat is truly oppressive, for one- it feels completely unfair that it's already 100º F (38ºC) at 11AM, and thermometer regularly hits 112º or more (44º) at the height of the day. The hours between 1 and 4PM are the worst- the fan I have pointed at my face just serves to redirect the hot air more forcefully.

I think the thing I've had the hardest time with though, is food. When the only green things in sight are the canvas tents that serve as our bedrooms, plastic tarps, and acacia trees sporting massive thorns, it makes the thought of a salad feel like a distant, happy memory. Meals around here tend to be basically white rice and meat, with the meat basically looking like it was prepared by forcing a grenade down the unlucky cow's throat.

It isn't the conditions though, as much as just a feeling that I'm ready to move on professionally, and the idea of continuing to work in communications, which is interesting, but not what I want to be doing, is tough. Also, the second-class status that comes with being 'the volunteer' is always there, even if it's unintentional.

I don't meant to turn this into a bitch session though- I knew what I was getting into when I came to Sudan, and if I couldn't hack it, I wouldn't be here. Still, given that I know something better is coming along, it isn't the easiest thing to put up with life in a tent, crappy food, and oppressive heat as daily facts of life.

Whenever I feel like this though, it's hard not to feel a little guilty though, knowing just how I good I have it. Every walk I take down the road, through the market, or even around the compound reinforces the fact that I won the geographic and socio-economic lottery in so many ways, and that being able to leave Sudan in just a couple months is a luxury few people around here, if any, will ever have.

I find myself thinking more and more about what life will be like in Cameroon though, and how strange it'll be to finally be living more of a standard 'expat' life. I wonder if I'll miss some of the challenge that comes along with a place like southern Sudan. The previous places I've worked have all allowed me to claim a certain amount of 'hard-core' credibility, and I wonder how it'll feel to be in a place people go on vacation to, instead of from.

I guess the key is not letting Sudan get to me over the next eight weeks. Yes, things aren't ideal, but it's a temporary thing, and if I can manage to stay busy, I'm sure it'll fly by.

I hope so, at least.


On a different note, since I've learned that I'll be going to Cameroon, I've had another thought on my mind. How and when I can get back to Chad? It's just northeast of Cameroon, and I feel like I need to see the people I left behind so abruptly when Peace Corps pulled out. I keep thinking about what it might feel like to show up in Gounou-Gaya; how would people react? How many would remember me? Would it be different, now that I'd be 'the expat' living the big city? Those sorts of things concern me.

Then I think about what it'll be like to see my friend and 'host father' Marc again, to see his four daughters, the youngest of which used to chant 'Nyah-na-nehl' and clutch my leg as she waddled along in the way that only toddlers can. What about Hophyra, who I remember as a mischevious four-year old who loved to wrestle her big sisters at any and every opportunity. Will Ka-Idi and Tanga, the oldest, still be in school?

I'm sure it'll be wonderful to see them, but probably a little weird at the same time. Hard to say though; I guess I'll only know when it happens.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Abyei & IDP Resettlement Sites

A few more photos from the Abyei area, where Internally-Displaced People (IDPs) are settling in temporary sites- story to follow later on.

A Few From Agok

These are mostly from the mechanic shop story I wrote about earlier, plus a couple random ones from Juba, the southern Sudanese capital.

Nyori Refugee Camp, Story & Photos

I had a chance to visit the Nyori Refugee Camp recently, for Congolese running from the Lord's Resistance Army, and fleeing into southern Sudan. I'll include the article I wrote about it below the slideshow.

In the shade of an enormous tree, Kulito Change sells Pure Milk brand Glucose Biscuits, bright-blue Mukwano bar soap, and small pieces of candy. Fifty meters to his left, a long line of men and women wait to register their bar-coded ration cards at a table cordoned off with red-and-white police tape tied to the antenna of a nearby Land Cruiser.

“Two packs for one pound,” he says hesitantly, pointing to the biscuits.

Whether he’s struggling over the English phrase, or the currency exchange isn’t clear – he’s more accustomed to selling in Congolese Francs, and to speaking French or Lingala.

Five weeks ago Change arrived at the Nyori refugee camp from the village of Aba, 18 kilometers from the camp and 10 kilometers outside the Sudanese village of Lasu. He and 6,000 others fled after the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) attacked Aba in December.

“The LRA came, they destroyed homes, and they killed many people,” he says.

Founded in 1986 under the leadership of Joseph Kony, the LRA has become infamous for widespread atrocities in Northern Uganda, the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and southern Sudan, notably the kidnapping of children to use as soldiers. According to the Swiss NGO Trial Watch, more than 85 percent of LRA fighters are children between the ages of 11 and 15, 40 percent of them young women.

Kony, who claims to be guided by visions instructing him to overthrow the Ugandan government, and to conduct attacks as a means of ‘purification,’ has largely led the LRA away from northern Uganda in recent years. Beginning in December 2008, a joint operation has combined the Ugandan, southern Sudanese, and Congolese military forces in the border region, in an attempt to eliminate the LRA. Despite this, the LRA has attacked numerous times along the DRC and Sudanese borders, in Aba and other communities.

With ongoing attacks in the region, refugees have flooded into southern Sudan, leading to a string of camps along the DRC/Sudan border. According to the United Nations, more than 16,000 refugees have fled Congo, spread across an area of 600 kilometers. Since their arrival, the refugees in Nyori camp have depended largely on the support provided by international agencies, as they were forced to abandon virtually everything as they fled their homes. And while they appreciate the work relief agencies are doing, some wonder if either the camp authorities or the Congolese government are listening to their concerns. Despite the challenge, however, they are moving forward, building what they can in the midst of a violently disrupted life.

Nyori camp, run by NGOs, and coordinated by the United Nations’ organization for refugee affairs, the UNHCR, straddles a small creek. At the bottom of the steep ravine, a newly painted red-and-white wooden bridge connects the two sides of the camp. On either side, the refugees live in small rectangular grass huts, most of which have been reinforced with UNHCR-issued white plastic sheeting.

Jamba Abarago’s small hut sits at the edge of Nyori. An older man, Abarago is the Chef de Camp, the ‘Camp Chief.’ Wearing a faded French Football Association jersey, he sits on a folding chair made from animal hide and wood with a small group of other men and describes the situation. A crowd quickly gathers.

Abarago says roughly 600 LRA soldiers attacked Aba, killed the village administrator and burned numerous buildings and vehicles. Several children were kidnapped; many others were murdered.

“They killed more than 100 people,” he remembers, speaking in French.

According to Gaston Madsona, another refugee, the LRA forces attacked as a group, but quickly split into smaller units.

“They divided up so they could kidnap more of the children,” he says.

After the attack, residents of Aba began to flee.

“We abandoned our manioc and peanut fields,” remembers Samuel Binima, another one of the men gathered around Abarago. The people of Aba and other surrounding communities traditionally rely on agriculture to support themselves, as industry in the region is all but non-existent.

Among the refugees from Aba, there is a pervasive frustration, a sense of ‘why us?.’ People in Nyori camp struggle to understand what would motivate the LRA to attack inside DRC, or anywhere other than northern Uganda. The cross-border region, a small sliver of territory where the Ugandan, Sudanese and Congolese frontiers intersect is largely an unpatrolled and unenforceable area, giving LRA fighters the flexibility to strike when and where they choose, seeking to terrorize the population, and steal supplies.

When the people of Aba fled, some came via the main road from the Congo border, with others making their way through the bush, arriving near the site that would become Nyori camp within a day or two. Once they arrived, UNHCR began working with the refugees to provide basic needs such as food, water, and sanitation.

“The UN helped us with things like jerricans and buckets,” says Change, the young man selling biscuits.

While NGOs have been working diligently at Nyori since the refugees arrival to provide support, distributing buckets, silverware, and plastic sheeting, and other items from large cargo containers at the edge of the camp, some feel they are having a difficult time getting key needs met.

“We don’t have enough food, and it’s causing nutritional problems,” says Logala Bang. “We only have sorghum and beans,”

“The health situation is catastrophic. Many people have died even since we came here,” adds Madsona.

The Aba refugees are concerned about a lack of educational opportunities. Many of the young people who fled Aba were in the middle of the school year, and there is a great deal of concern that the academic year will be an année blanche, a wasted year. Rather than being in classrooms, even makeshift ones, school-age girls gather at the bridge to wash red and white enamel dishes in the creek, while the boys fish for tadpoles with handmade fishing rods built of sticks and small bits of string.

“There are many students who were forced to abandon their studies,” Madsona says.

Having never been in a similar situation., many people at Nyori express a sense of confusion about what they should expect.

“This is the first time I’ve ever been a refugee. I’d like to know what is expected of us, and what rights we have with the UN and with the Sudanese government,” says Emmanual Tamaro Tembe, a young man with short-cropped hair and a pink-and-white striped shirt.

Many of the refugees wonder if anyone in their country is paying attention to their situation, and are concerned that the authorities in Kinshasa, more than 1,800 kilometers southwest, have turned a blind eye.

“Does the DRC government even think of us?” asks Nathaniel Dramule, a refugee sitting next to Abarago, their leader.

“How can we communicate our situation to the Congolese government? They’ve said nothing,” the chief adds.

Despite the challenges they face, the villagers of Aba are hopeful for the future, and ideally would like to return home to Congo, should the situation permit. For the moment, however, they feel safer staying in Sudan, and hope to improve their situation where they can.

“Our desire is to improve the quality of our lives here,” says Dramule.

The refugees have been taking concrete steps to develop the camp where they can. The path leading down to the bridge is a steep dirt trail, one that will undoubtedly become treacherous as the rainy season intensifies. A group of men work with hoes and picks, widening the path, and cutting the outline of steps into the loose soil. Nearby, a man in ripped white tank-top hacks at fallen logs with a panga, a machete, each subsequent ‘thwack’ spitting a spray of wood fragments into the air. The logs will be placed into the newly cut gaps, providing a safer path for the stream of mothers with babies strapped to their backs as they move from one side of the camp to the other.

And while the refugees seem resigned to the thought of remaining in Sudan for the near future, their desire to return home is obvious, something pointed out by one of the youngest members of the group. ““If security is guaranteed, we’ll return,” says Tembe. “For the moment though, we’ll stay here.”

A Recent Article

Here's a recent article I wrote about the organization's work here- I thought I'd go ahead and paste it. Sorry about having to edit out the name, if that seems a bit jarring.



A new engine for Agok

The screech of tearing metal rips through the air as Salah Ahmed lowers the diamond-edged saw to a grease-covered piece of steel frame. Glowing-orange sparks shoot into the air as Ahmed, one of the mechanics at the Wauashen Auto Repair Shop slices into the metal.

Located at the edge of the town of Agok, in the Abyei area, the garage is a simple tin-walled structure, wide enough to comfortably fit two vehicles at a time, with an adjoining shop.
Inside the garage, a silver Peugeot waits for a mechanic, hood open.

The garage, opened at the end of December 2008, is a part of ( XX's) Programme (ARRP), which aims to help communities in the greater Abyei area, such as Agok, recover from the effects
of the 23-year civil war that ended in 2005. The $7 million program, funded by the European Union and administered by the United Nations Development Programme, began in
2006 and is likely to run through at least 2010. Fighting reignited in Abyei town in May 2008, forcing its more than 50,000 residents to flee. The mechanics of Wauashen
garage, working in Abyei at the time, lost everything. Several relocated the 20 kilometers south to Agok, seeking a chance to rebuild.

“We decided on [the garage project] because we knew they’d had a shop in Abyei before,” says James Akai, XX's Business Development Advisor. “Their property was destroyed in the war last summer.”

After the mechanics formed a cooperative, XX supported them with start-up capital. Using this seed money to purchase tools and supplies from Khartoum, the mechanics then purchased tin, cement, and gravel with their personal finances, which they used to construct the
Wauashen shop. The land government authorities allocated the cooperative is on the fringe of town, in a zone that will flood quickly once the rainy season begins in May. Without a
gravel pathway from the road, the garage will be inaccessible due to thick mud.

To Akai, the fact that the mechanics used their money to construct the shop is a positive development, and proof that XX has made a smart investment. “It isn’t the best land, but the fact they accepted it and brought gravel on their own is a sign of commitment,” he notes.

The garage employs 19 mechanics, each earning an average of 10 pounds per day for their work on electrical systems, welding, tire repair, and engine overhauls. The mechanics charge on a sliding scale, with small repairs incurring minimal charges; a major overhaul for a bus or
truck can run 8,000 pounds, roughly 3,600 U.S. dollars. Ahmed, who worked for several years as a mechanic for both the United Nations and the World Food Program in Khartoum before returning to the Abyei area, has worked to build the capacity of others at the shop. “I’ve been training the other mechanics,” he says in Arabic, speaking through a translator. As he talks, he adjusts a thick gauze bandage on his index finger.

Walking around, the garage is abuzz with activity. While Ahmed slices through the frame, Saïd Abdumahhamad Rasman, another mechanic, cleans a fuel pump on a large
cargo truck parked outside, its cab tilted forward to better access the engine. Inside the shop, Akenyei Kiir twists a wrench in the engine cavity of the Peugeot, loosening a bolt.

Ahmed and the other mechanics have big plans for the shop. “When we train enough people, we’ll be opening a new section of the garage,” he says. According to Akai, the garage has already attracted a large number of clients, and the organization has every reason to think the business will continue to grow. “I see a lot of potential,” he says. “The head mechanic is responsible and extremely honest.”

And while the garage could not have been successful without the labor of the mechanics, they recognize the role XX played in helping them begin, and appreciate it. “XX has helped us a lot,” says Ali Hassan Ali, another mechanic.

Just off to the side of the garage, a small shelter constructed of wooden poles and sharganiya, woven grass mats, provides a bit of respite from the scorching heat. Inside, the faint scent of cardamom is in the air, and a small circle of plastic chairs sit in a circle near a wooden table covered with tea and powdered milk. With the opening of the garage, an enterprising young woman opened this coffee and tea shop, providing drinks and a place to sit for customers as they wait for a tire or brake pad change. At 50 piastres, half a pound, a glass of hibiscus tea is a small price for an escape from the heat, and a positive example of how one small enterprise can serve as an economic engine for others nearby.

Akai and other XX staff see the project as a major success. Over the next few years, the garage seems likely to expand, something the organization is happy to see. He feels that the garage could easily become the shop of choice in town, in line with the mechanics’ plans. “We want to open three garages, including new ones in Abyei and Wau,” says Ahmed.

And as the garage grows, the mechanics intend to bring new employees into the fold. Next to the garage entrance, by the small door leading to a storeroom, Mien, a 14-year-old boy, sits with a ratchet, unfastening a washer from the engine of a small Mitsubishi Pajero 4x4. He wears blue rubber sandals, and his tan pants have small streaks of grease.

“I’ve learned how to open up engines,” he says proudly. “Now I want to become a mechanic.”

Tuesday, April 7, 2009



I was just chatting with one of the people in charge here in Agok, and he seemed to be having a bit of a tough night. It's been a challenging couple days, I think, and an issue with money put him in a bad mood that seems to have lasted.

"Why do you want to do this job, Nathaniel, honestly?" He asked, as we sat in the dusty area outside the main pavilion, swatting mosquitoes.

Good question. I wonder myself sometimes.

Why exactly is it that I'm willing to live in some of the hottest, driest, poorest places on Earth, eat crappy food, sleep in a tent, and deal with latrines that feel way too full? Seems crazy right? At home, I could have a good life- not that I'd be likely to be well-off, or anything, but at least I could have a salad once in awhile, and travel wouldn't be on roads that feel like they're 80% crater, 20% gravel.

But I know why I'm here- it's not about those things. Yes, conditions are rough, but every job has it's challenges- the ones here just happen to be a bit more in-your-face. Yes, I could be home, living in a comfortable place, but I know I'd be missing something.

As cliché as this sounds, being in Chad, and being in the Peace Corps changed my life. Five-and-a-half years ago, had someone asked me if I wanted to go live in a village in a poor, hot, corrupt, and violent country, I would have simply assumed they'd taken an extra shot of crazy in the coffee that morning. Now, I feel like I get it.

Since I began doing this in 2004, I've been places nobody else in my family would dare to go, and seen things so tragic that you feel them eat away at your soul. I've observed poverty beyond anything most people can imagine, where $1 literally would be the difference between life and death.

But I've also seen resilience beyond anything I could imagine, and signs of progress in places one would never expect it. Seeing someone 'get it,' over something as simple as the reason to send their child to school, or how drinking water from a pump instead of a pond will help them avoid a bad case of amoebas is what makes it worthwhile, the knowledge that you did some small thing for the better.

My brother, the chef, asked me the same question once.

"What is it about this?" I remember him asking, as we drove over the Bay Bridge back into San Francisco, the lights of the Ferry Building and the Embarcadero beautiful as always.

"Think of the thing you're most passionate about," I said, "and try to explain to someone why you care so much about it."

It might not make sense to anyone but yourself, but if you have a passion, you know why you follow it. The question, though, is do you take the steps you have to do to make it a reality, or do you let it go, in favor of something safe, something comfortable?

Not me. I'm still following it- hard to say where it'll lead, but I bet I'll be happy along the way.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Big News

I just got an email from Catholic Relief Services, one of the world's largest NGOs, the other day. I'd applied for their International Development Fellows Program, an initial one-year position with them designed to lead into a long-term career with the organization. After months of waiting, and a narrowing down from 500 to 150 to 50 to about 20, I found out.

I got it!

It's not 100 percent certain yet where I'll be, but as of right now, it should be in Francophone Central Africa. That means any of the following: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Congo Brazzaville, Chad, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Rwanda, or Burundi. Nigeria is also on the list, but as an English-speaking country, I assume that won't be happening. I should find out exactly where within a couple weeks.

If you'd like to find out more about it, by the way, check out:

I'm pretty excited about it, as you can probably guess. It feels like a validation for all the volunteer and intern work I've been doing over the past several years. It means that I'm actually going to have a career in this after all, so it seems.

I'm very appreciative for the opportunities I've had with my current organization, but I feel like it's time to do something new. Like I mentioned in my last post, I've been working in communications here, which is interesting, but really not what I want to be doing long-term.

Also, and at the risk of sounding a little spoiled, I wouldn't mind something a little more comfortable. I'm perfectly content to live in challenging environments- it's the nature of working in development. With that said, to this point I've worked in Chad, northern Uganda, Niger, and southern Sudan, each among the hardest terrains on Earth. I wouldn't mind being in a place where it isn't 45º celsius as a rule, where roads are mostly functional, and having a few creature comforts like air-conditioning and access to vegetables. With this fellowship, I think all of that will be possible.

My plan as of now will be to stay here in Sudan through the end of June, come back to the States, with training beginning in July. As I know more about my placement and work, I'll post it here- keep checking back...

A Few New Developments

Sorry for the delay in posting anything here- it's been a busy couple weeks, and blogging has taken a backseat to work and moving around. To attempt to make up for it- here's a three-part post.

About a week and half ago, I had a chance to visit a refugee camp for about 6,000 Congolese who fled to southern Sudan following an attack by the Lord's Resistance Army in the area. Founded in 1986 under the leadership of former altar-boy Joseph Kony, the LRA has become infamous for widespread atrocities in Northern Uganda, the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and southern Sudan, notably the kidnapping of children to use as soldiers. According to the Swiss NGO Trial Watch, more than 85 percent of LRA fighters are children between the ages of 11 and 15, 40 percent of them young women.

Nyori camp, where I visited, is only about 10km from the DRC border. It's run by NGOs, and coordinated by the United Nations’ organization for refugee affairs, the UNHCR. It straddles a small creek. At the bottom of the steep ravine, a newly painted red-and-white wooden bridge connects the two sides of the camp. On either side, the refugees live in small rectangular grass huts, most of which have been reinforced with UNHCR-issued white plastic sheeting.

(By the way, I have photos from the camp, which I'll post as soon as I get the chance.)

I certainly wrote about this plenty while I was in Chad, but seeing the camp made me realize yet again just how incredibly lucky we all are in the developed world. We never think about what would happen if a militia suddenly attacked our community, what we might do if we had a parent, sibling, or child dying from a completely treatable disease, or how we'd manage go half the places we do if we had to use roads that were more crater than gravel, spending four hours to go 30 kilometers. This is southern Sudan, and this is the situation the Congolese refugees are fleeing to. I don't have anything particularly pithy of profound to offer on this, but it's just something to think about the next time you might feel like complaining about your flight being delayed 20 minutes.


Speaking of flights, the travel from Juba to Agok was...exciting, as usual. Flying out of Juba is always a challenge- the airport has one entrance, guarded by SPLM (the southern Sudan military) troops, and always surrounded by a mob of people, every one of whom is trying to get in the same doorway, waving passports and southern Sudan travel permits. I did make it through the door, however, but quickly found myself in the midst of another mob- it so happened that my World Food Program (WFP) flight happens to be checking in at almost the exact same time as one of the regular flights to Nairobi, leading to a huge crush of people trying to check in at the single counter next to me. I'm able to push my way through, however, and hand my agency identity card to a man in a fluorescent green vest at the counter so that he can check my name on the manifest, the only ticket needed for UN travel.

In Juba, you walk behind the counter to deal with your baggage, causing a huge crush as people try to squeeze through. On WFP flights, you can carry a maximum of 15 kilograms, officially- in practice, the number seems to be higher, if you're friendly enough. My bag seems to always be a few kilos over the limit, and again I'm lucky that after throwing it onto the scale, the baggage handler shrugs, and hands it off to me. The next step is security- I lug my bag to another countertop, where an SPLM soldier and airport security officer wait. They gesture for me to open the bag, which they ruffle through, setting aside clothing, multivitamins, and a jar of peanut butter I picked up at the Sri Lankan-owned supermarket in town. Airport security. Over to the side, a new X-ray machine waits, turned off.

Checking my big bag, I squeeze through to the other side of the counter, and make my way to the other half of airport security, the waiting room before the terminal. In another logic-defying move, the entrance to the waiting room is only accessible through a single tiny door, where other security agents wait to search your carry-on bag. A huge line divided in two is parked in front of the door- one for men, one for women- in a huge blow for equality, I guess, the women's line is about 1/8th the length of the men's. Making it to the front, the agent searches through my bag by hand, removing the batteries from my alarm clock- almost as logical as airport security back home. I duck under the fake leather curtain separating the security checkpoint from the waiting room, am quickly frisked by another agent, and waved through. Mission accomplished, much pushing and shoving later.

To get to Agok we fly first to the town of Wau, via another town, Rumbek. We take a small turboprop exactly like the ones you might take in the US between San Francisco and LA, or Miami and Tampa. We arrive in Renk just under an hour later, hitting the dirt runway with a cloud of red dust behind us. After picking up a few passengers, we're on the way again, off to Wau. 30 minutes later we touch down at the airstrip- as we flash past, I can't help but notice the broken fuselages of two large jets. Each is tilted crazily up on their wing and in several pieces- whether it was a poor landing or artillery that brought them down, it's hard to say.

After a two-hour delay that was supposed to be 30 minutes, I head to Agok. We fly on a tiny plane called a Twin Otter, which bounces through the clouds as I hold on, trying not to think about it. On a rational level, I know everything is fine- a pilot friend of mine explained to me recently how they look at turbulence in the air in the same way that the captain of a ship sees waves. Still. I'm close enough to the controls that I can see a GPS unit ticking away the distance- that helps, plus the fact that I see the pilots joking with each other over the headphones. If they were concerned, I'm sure they'd look serious.

We fly past the runway first, in a wide circle. No air-traffic control around here, so this is the only way to make sure that the landing strip is free of children, goats, or anything else that might get in the way. Doubling back, we hit the gravel and bounce along, coming to a stop next to a few parked Land Cruisers. I've arrived- 400 kilometers and six hours later.


So, the village is called Agok, but I think 'surface of the sun' might be a better name. Holy crap, it's hot.

Agok is dry and brown, with a few tough acacia trees hanging on to provide a bit of shade here and there. It reminds me a lot of Chad- same heat, same dust, same goats, same seko grass mats, same women in bright headscarves.

I'll be in Agok and the surrounding towns for about a month, looking at the organization's work in Economic Recovery and Development, writing stories, and taking photos. It's interesting stuff, but still not exactly what I want to do- fortunately it looks like I won't be doing it for much longer... Details to follow.