Not a fancy digital scale, but it works. (And there's no need to take your shoes off when you're not wearing any!) Here an MBB graduate and now Auxiliary Nurse at Kuron Medical Center in a remote corner of South Sudan carefully measures an infant's weight in kilos, one way to track healthy growth. Underweight, malnourished children get special attention.
I write this from California, a state perennially parched and desperate for rain. Not so in South Sudan, where water pours from the skies at least 6 or 7 months of the year. Great for crops and thirsty cattle. Not so great for traveling by car. If you look closely at the far upper left corner of the above pix, you will see the African equivalent of a AAA tow-truck: a farm tractor to winch hopelessly stuck vehicles and drag them to higher ground. More than once, MBB staff and Scholars have had to spend the night sitting in such a swamp, waiting to be rescued. The mosquitoes enjoyed it more than they did!
In some regions of the world, folk traditions portray storks as deliverers-of-babies. Whether flying the new arrival into Mom's house on a beak-slung diaper sling, or dropping it carefully down a chimney, storks play their whimsical role from country to country. In South Sudan, the storks look large enough to deliver full-grown adults! Pictured here is a saddle-billed stork, all decked out and ready for duty. The photo was snapped in E. Africa by Kathleen Connolly, RSM, an avid birder.
Those of you
who know me or have read my book are aware of my deep-seated fear of
spiders. Each morning while in South Sudan,
I meticulously scan my clothing with a flashlight and shake each item
vigorously to dislodge any creepy-crawlies. During the day I watch where I
step. I examine smudges on the walls of the outhouse to make sure they do not
have 8 legs. At night I worry that every shadow has legs. I especially fear the
spiders that hop (they love the outhouse, by the way). How can I defend against that? The locals laugh at me, but I
don’t care. They say I should instead worry
about scorpions and snakes and centipedes and even certain thorn bushes (all
very poisonous, some quite deadly).
One night I
heard loud thwacking in the kitchen adjacent to the room where we were eating
dinner: “Thump! Thump! Thrrrump!” This continued for several minutes, accompanied by muttered grunts. The cook had discovered a centipede, about 8 inches in length and apparently venomous, and was dutifully
dispatching it to the afterlife. I later
viewed the corpse with curiosity but did not share the horror exhibited by the
cook. THAT, I reserve for spiders!
Before its demise it looked something like this (a picture which I found later on the web). And no, that is definitely not MY foot!