First day in Jalle: #10

Published May 31, 2011

We drove out to the Rebuild South Sudan school site this morning. The road from here to there is more like I remember! If it had been raining, it would have taken awhile, as it is we drove it in about 15 minutes. As it’s been unseasonably dry, it was fairly easy to navigate. The site is about 6 miles from where we are staying and there are Tukuls, cows, people and goats along the entire route.

The school site is located West of the main (only) road. For some reason I don’t fully understand, the community leaders don’t allow Tukuls to be built between the road and the dyke. This seams to be a security measure rather than a zoning/planning decision. Regardless, the area set aside for the school and future civic projects is quite large. The grass is just starting to grow after the long dormant dry season. And it’s flat. Endlessly, unvariably, unquestioningly flat. The soil is as bad or worse than I remember from two years ago. Seeing it in all its cracked, saturated and unstable glory confirmed our decision to try something new with helical piers.

Assembling the school from all the bits and pieces is going to be challenging. There are 1,000’s of little bits and pieces and the big pieces are heavy!! The steel framework appears to be extremely good quality and thick gauge steel. I’m extremely impressed with Steel Structures Kenya. This is not your grandpa’s pole barn!

The foundation is the last thing we need to get started and we’re so close! Michael is coordinating with the shipping agent in Kampala. Apparently, we don’t have all the customs paperwork we need yet. Michael is writing a letter on behalf of Rebuild South Sudan formally requesting that the foundation be exported to Sudan. It appears as if Ugandan customs is trying to protect us from ourselve, making doubly sure that the shipment is being delivered into the right hands. How many more “papers” we end up needing before getting our hands on it is anyone’s guess at this point.

James is leaving on Friday, and it doesn’t look like he’ll be around when the foundation arrives. We are going to stay tomorrow night back in Bor and he’ll spend Thursday night in Juba. Since we still don’t have a firm date on the foundation, I’m trying to figure out where I should be. The trip budget was figured on spending most of our time (for free) in Jalle. However, once James leaves, I’d be on my own out here. This isn’t the worst thing, but there’s absolutely nothing I can do that is useful out here on my own. There are no good alternatives at the moment. We’re already way over our travel budget – to the point that we’re running out of money.

I’m starting to panic – my time here will be over way too soon. Michael must return to the States on the 14th, two days before me. With days and days eaten up with moving from point A to point B, I’m not going to have much time on site with Denis to get him started. There is no way I’m going to see anything but the very beginning of construction with my own eyes. I’m feeling, quite frankly, quite terrible. To come so far and to be so close and to have everything coming down the the very last millisecond…. sigh. I’d use stronger words if I could.


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