Saturday, April 18, 2009

Creature Discomfort

In the book THIS FLOWING TOWARD ME, my recently-published memoir, I devote an entire chapter to my mortal fear of spiders. My rather tame suburban upbringing had not prepared me for the frightful range of creepy crawlers that greatly outnumber us bipeds on the planet. Southern Sudan has more than its share!
During my 2008 trip to Narus, I nervously shared an outhouse with a disturbingly large black spider that eyed me from the wooden wall about 12" from my bared bottom. He stayed there all week, menacing but motionless. I, on the other hand, made my daily visits as short as possible, all the while praying that this hairy thing was not from any species that hopped.... I never did learn if that spider was poisonous. No matter: if it had edged any closer to me, I would have died from sheer panic long before venom had a chance!
The Southern Sudanese are puzzled by this phobia of mine. They have fears far more real and more deadly: malaria, cholera, meningitis; land mines, attacks by bandits, tribal conflicts, and the ever-present awareness that their fragile peace agreement with Khartoum could crumble, dragging them back into civil war.
Mercy Beyond Borders works with displaced women and children in Southern Sudan to lift them up from extreme poverty. By supporting the education of girls and the entrepreneurial efforts of returning refugee women, we improve their lives bit by bit.
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