Thursday, July 30, 2009

No Supermarket on the Corner

It isn't easy to describe how remote and isolated
the villages in Southern Sudan are. Even those places that are nearest the Sudanese border with Kenya require long trekking on bone-jarring roads to reach the nearest town for supplies. One section of the road, along which bandits are particularly active, requires military escort for all vehicles.
When staff at St Bakhita School need to purchase fresh produce, for example, they drive more than 2 hours each way, often with maddening waits at the immigration and customs offices along the way, to do their shopping in the town of Lokichokkio, an outpost in northern Kenya that served for several decades during the civil war as the logistical staging area for the U.N. emergency food airlifts into Sudan. In "Loki" (as it is affectionately known), you can buy fresh eggs and bananas and canned goods and staples like cornmeal and rice and sugar and cooking oil. And you can visit the local butcher shop, pictured here. Without refrigeration, of course, it's difficult to stock up on perishables that might spoil before you get them back across the border, past the inspectors, and into Sudan. But I am living witness that it is indeed possible to juggle a flat cardboard tray of eggs while riding in a bouncing vehicle through clouds of dust en route to Narus!
Think of the staff and girls of St Bakhita School the next time you stop by your local supermarket or convenience store.

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