Everything posted here is stricktly the opinion of the poster and shall not be taken to be the official position of UNMIS, UNMISS, UN, the Norwegian Armed Forces or any other organisation whatsoever.

Thursday 30 June 2011

Visited Youth With A Mission school in Yei again today.

Today I visited the YWAM school again, after not having gone for way too long. In addition to bringing my new G5 (CIMIC) with me, I carried an envelope of money from my parents and a box with 300 pens from my better half and me.

We got to speak to both the administrator and the headmaster, and I think my G5 should have sufficient enformation to start drafting a Quick Impact Project for the school to get a new block of classrooms. The YWAM has big plans for the future, but also looks at thing in a long timeframe - ten years down the line they want to be able to offer secondary school in addition to the nursery classes and primary schooling. to quite the administrator: "they will arrive when they are four years old and leave uss to go to Juba University."

The joy and thankfulness of receiving what I carried was plain and easy to see; just the pens means that they can release funds for other needed items. The cash will either go to feeding the children, for books or for repairs on their one car (no car means having to pay people to bring the 50 kg bags of flour for the daily porridge). I'm sure they will prioritise wisely.

I also learned that they are going to need more desks so the children don't have to sit on the floor. fifteen desks at one hundred and fifty pounds each don't sound much, but when you live of donations as the YWAM does it can be a very steep slope indeed. With the current exchange rate it's a bit more than 700 USD, a big amount when you can't afford to give each student their own pen...

Wednesday 29 June 2011

Cold and drinks

I'm not feeling my best today - like several others UNMOs I've come down with a bit of a cold after the visit from Juba yesterday. Nothing serious, just a sore throat and a runny nose, but annoying none the less.

In other news, I can state that the orange flavoured "jus" I picked up yesterday is quite tasty, and it's not just the flavour that is orange... Not as good as freshly pressed oranges, but better than most other drinks I've run across down here. And speaking of drinks, well, I found something unexpected in the shop today:
Yes, it's genuine Mountain Dew - along side a pitcher of orange flavoured drink.

Tuesday 28 June 2011

ALO training

Today was a busy day in it's own way... we had a group of instructors come from Juba to conduct a class on the finer issues of being an Air Liaison Officer (same class I had up in Khartoum back in the end of October last year). Off course it was only after they had arrived - and hour late - that we realized that no one in Juba had given any thoughts to the fact that having lunch in Yei isn't as easy as it is in Team Sites with a cafeteria... so both the instructors and the Russian aircrew that flew them here was pretty much left floating.

Thankfully though, we are blessed with a very nice company from BanBat in Yei... so after a quick talk to their officers, and a enough time for them to actually prepare food, our guests (and myself) were treated to a wonderful Bangladeshi lunch. Both the instructors and the aircrew are to their hearts content, as did I. I just can't say how grateful I am to BanBat for helping out on such short notice - we're really lucky to be in this team site with such good fellows.

In other, unrelated news, I found something interesting in the shop today:
 Jus4ever - just as I was running out of orange drink powder too. 
 "Approved colourants and flavorings"... probably best not to ask.
Four exiting flavourings... looking forward to trying this tomorrow!

Monday 27 June 2011

Mac and cheese

Before the weekend I was given a small block of cheese by one of the NGOs. Today I deceided to make use of it and make dinner for the two Canadian UNPOLs who lives in camp and myself. And what to make? Well, mac and cheese off course!
 Four cups of cooked pasta
 One cup of cheese
 "Enough" butter, milk and spices.
Result: Tasty dinner for three hungry guys.

The downfalls of leadership

I have identified a major downside to being the Team Site Leader; when the various Gs (G1, G2, G3 and so on) are well trained, reasonable competent and on the ball at all times... well, there isn't a lot for me to do other than to smile, nod and tell them to carry on.

Not that I'm really complaining, since I got my hands full with the fallout from the uncertainty of whats going to happen after July 9th...

Sunday 26 June 2011

Some things are certain...

...like the fact that the Blue - our bar / staff club - is fast becoming a very popular place for both people inside and outside the UN to hang out. Yesterday we suddenly found ourselves with not just the normal crew (all four), but also with a number of the UNMOs and about fifteen or so NGOs who had decided that having a drink with us was preferable to the other options.

Two of my friends down here - a guy from Michigan (of all places) and his wife (Madagaskar) are getting ready to leave Yei after two years and move to the US; she'll be taking additional education and he've gotten a job relating to Afganistan. They are both quite excited to leave South Sudan and live somewhere a bit more civilized - even if it means short summers and two meters of snow in winter.

We also had a group from Norwegian Peoples Aid - NPA - over, and I got to talk a lot of Norwegian in the course of the evening. He wasn't too thrilled when he heard that the UN still don't know what will happen after the 9th July, but we quickly got talking about what other capabilities we would like to see Norway deploy to South Sudan... personally I favour an engineering company with well boring equipment.

Speaking of the time after the 9th; still no news but plenty of rumours. And it is only thirteen days left...

Friday 24 June 2011

Big spending

My pantry was all but empty today, so I decided to head downtown and do some big spending!
All of that, a big bag of bread and a crate of water (24 bottles) for about hundred pounds, or about 30 USD. I can't spend cash down here even if I want to....

Thursday 23 June 2011


And lots of it. So much in fact that the walk from the office to the container - which is about 30 meters - got me so soaking wet that everything I wore was dripping wet. And when I say everything, I mean EVERYTHING. I would quite possible be less wet if I had jumped into the Yei River...

Good thing the air condition can be set to blow warm air as well, my uniform is hanging in front of it right now in an attempt to make it stop dripping on the floor.

Wednesday 22 June 2011

Movie night

Pretty much out of the blue we decided to do a movie night down at the Blue tonight... so I tossed together some waffles, one of the other guys made popcorn and we opened the bar. Even if it was only five of us, and even if the movie wasn't that great, we still have a blast of a time. We'll do it again pretty soon I think - just have to figure out what movie we want to watch.

Tuesday 21 June 2011

One quarter thousands posts

Two hundred and fifty posts, and pretty flowers growing behind the loo....


We live in interesting times indeed... if by "interesting" you mean "don't have a clue as to what will happen".

July 9th is coming ever closer, and with it comes the end of UNMIS (most likely), the beginning of UNMISS (quite probable) and a major reduction in the number of military personnel serving with the UN in Sudan (almost certainly). What we do know for sure is that nothing is decided yet - but current plans calls for going from almost six hundred Military Observers to less than two hundred Military Liaison Officers... and we don't even know what a MLO is supposed to do. As it looks right now, it's an UNMO with a new name and less backup - among other things, the Force Protection will be centralized and then deployed on an "as needed" basis. A persistent rumour is that the name have changed so a number of nationalities can be quietly cut from the mission, but I'm not so sure that is what's been going on... it's just as likely that the name have changed because the job description is going to change too... moving away from pure observation tasks.

In light of this uncertainty all leave planned for after July 9th is still cancelled, and we been asked to inquire with our UNMOs of Captain and lower rank if they might be interested in transferring to UNAMID (ie: Dafur) or if they want to be repatriated to their home nation. And to top of the uncertainties and - I do believe - piss people off, a persistent rumour is making the rounds saying that since we will be in a new mission after July 9th, all our earned CTO and AL days will be lost and we will have to start earning them again... at a rate of 1.2 days CTO per week and 2.5 days AL per month. In other words, we'll lose all our earned leave and I wont have enough days to go home on leave until my end of mission. We're not to pleased about that.... understatement of the year.

Another uncertainty that have been bothering me since the beginning of April have evaporated... long story short, the Norwegian Armed Forces are reorganizing (again - we been at it since I joined up in '93) and my old position have been reorganized away from the beginning of August... leaving me with a job (being a military officer is a life choice, really) but no work. Today I got the happy news that they have found a slot for me in the new organization, and I get to stay at "my" airbase! Talk about a load of my shoulders.

Monday 20 June 2011


I've started playing volleyball pretty much every afternoon with some of the Indian signalers, a couple of UNPOLs and some of the other UNMOs. It's good fun, and a lot more sociable than walking or running around camp all the time. We're getting a bit better all the time, so now the teams are starting to get fairly evenly matched too - which makes the game so much more fun. Makes it last longer too; todays five sets took a bit more than two hours to play through.

Only downsides is that my lower arms and hands gets sore.. got a nice collection of bruises on my forearms.

Sunday 19 June 2011

Party in the Blue, again

Our staff club is quickly turning into THE place to host your party here in Yei - last night we had two at the same time; one birthday party for one of our Russian UNMOs and one going-away party for three of the Indian Signalers who are going home after the end of their tour of duty.

Naturally the two parties merged into one super-party, with lots of tasty food, lots of nice people, lots of good music and - considering that the Indians were involved - lots of dancing...


Thanks to one of her many fans - this time a UNPOL serving in Dafur - little Miss AC now sports a stylish flea collar. She seems to have resigned herself to wearing it, and hopefully it'll make her less itchy.

As always, clicking on the pictures will make them big - the flea collar is white and may be a bit hard to spot on the thumbnails.

You looking at me?

Saturday 18 June 2011

Party in the Blue

How do you know your staff club is making an impact? When the local NGOs starts borrowing it for their going away parties!

One of the girls who's been in Yei for more than twice as long as I have so far is going to Europe to study, so a party was thrown together with a potluck table, music and forty odd people. Quite the success too; the bar didn't close until about one in the morning...
 We're starting to get quite a selection on the shelves.

...and a good time was had by all!

Thursday 16 June 2011

End/start of an era

Today the outgoing Team Site Leader left Yei; today I took over as Team Site Leader in Yei...

 Pretty much ALL the UNMOs in the team - the only people missing is the three people currently on leave.

A good friend and me / outgoing and incoming TSL.

Wednesday 15 June 2011

Pineapple soda

 Just a bottle of pineapple soda...

Wait... what's this?

Hmm... most cunfuseing. Is it a can wanting to be a bottle? A bottle wanting to be a can? Is is a cattle or a bon?

Tuesday 14 June 2011

Goodbye friend

Tonight was the farewell party of our Team Site Leader - Thursday morning he'll catch the helicopter out of Yei, and in a little less than two weeks time he'll be home with his wife and kid. It's funny how you can both be happy and sad at the same time... Happy, because he gets to go home and be with people who are important again; I know how much he has missed them. Sad because, well, it's not every day you say farewell to a friend without knowing when you'll see him again - if ever.

We had a good party though with fifty or sixty guests, plenty of food, free drinks and music. I was asked to act as the MC, a job I admittedly winged but got praise for anyway. But then I have some experience in how things should be done, and more than a little experience in speaking to a captive audience. A very different audience, and on a very different subject than I usually do back home, but the principle is the same; know what you want to say and simply plunge ahead.

The party broke up by itself around half past then - tomorrow is after all a workday, and Sector don't really accept a party the night before as an excuse not to show up to work...
 Plenty of food - so much we're having leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

 It's not often the local staff comes to the farewell parties - they did tonight though.

 People enjoying themselves, eating yummy goat.

International and national staff, all together. 

 And yes, free drinks too.

 From left; Civil Affairs, outgoing TSL, UN Security and our Chief Mechanic.

 After the food and speeches; games and dancing!

 Africans like to dance... while I have a sense of rhythm not unlike a derailed train.

As far as I can tell everyone was enjoying themselves!

Monday 13 June 2011

Day off? What day off?

In theory, the day after being duty officer should be a day off. Most of the other UNMOs actually do take the day off, but some of us don't - partly because we got stuff to do in the office, and partly because there is little to do outside the office...

Todays excuse for staying and working was the paperwork for the new UNMO who arrived today - a pleasant fellow from Sierra Leone. Got a wide base of experience to build on too, from logistics to personnel, so my only headache is going to figure out which slot to put him in as far as a G-job goes...

Other than that it has been a quiet day in our corner of Sudan.

Sunday 12 June 2011

Sunday, boring Sunday

It's been a very slow Sunday - desk bound in the office being the Duty Officer and typing out my report from the Long Duration Patrol. Tomorrow is supposed to be my day off, which is not likely to happen; we're scheduled to receive a new UNMO and as the G1 I will have to be on hand to make sure the paperwork is taken care of.

In addition I have an idea that will take a while to put together tomorrow: a short video with greetings from all the team members for our outgoing Team Site Leader. Might be a fun project to get going.

Saturday 11 June 2011

Long Duration Patrol to Lainya - the pictures

Quick roadside stop on the way to our Temporary Patrol Base.
Looking back...
My temporary accommodation.
Got to love the mosquito dome I got.
The row of tents in the TPB.
Close up of the tent - note the thatch roof.
Thatch roof, canvas roof, tent - no way rain is going to come through.
The ablutions were a little more... african.
Poking out of the plains are mountains... I'm fairly sure they are old lava pipes.
Just another mountain.
Most of the JMT with a boma administrator.
Traditional stove - aka some bricks and mud.
Modern life is making inroads though - that's the sprocket from a bike on the left.
Not the best of roads.
Everything is green, now that the rainy season is underway.
Ever so often a small farm dots the landscape.
Piece of land readied for cultivation my hacking away most of the vegetation and light it on fire.
Car, boat - whats the difference?
Notice the wake.
Another small farm.
Sometimes we could drive around the water.
Yupp, green.
See on the right? That is actually where the road is.
Not that the road is very drive-able by anything less than a tank though.
See that little patch of grass? Pay close attention...
...my driver didn't. And this was our nice car too.
In all fairness, it is very difficult to spot.
Unhappy driver taking photos.
In all fairness, there was nowhere else to drive - that puddle is too deep for the cars.
Some of the locals.
Farm, again.
Looks nice down here.
I had to buy some candles and matches to get a bit of light in my tent.
Me, the BanBat Commander and our SPLA Language Assistant.
More mountains.
Another landscape shoot.
And another.
In a tiny village in the middle of nowhere.
Landscape with elephant grass
Threatening rain - only got a light drizzle, but a nice light show on the horizon.
Making light.
BanBat all packed up and ready to go home
More landscapes.
Mountains, plains, buildings - Africa.
More mountains.
What can I say?
I like mountains.
A more colourful farmhouse
An all too familiar scene - the wife works the fields, the husband just hangs out. 
The second to last bridge before Yei.