Then I had a one year stint as Senior Trainer for the BBC Media Action—leading a national training programme that equipped “workshop”journalists with radio skills to produce high quality programmes on mother and child health issues. In between I provided communication consultancy for the likes of UNICEF, Adam Smith International—teaching senior ministers and deputy ministers on best practices on how to effectively interact with the media.
I also enjoyed works for Safer World Incorporated, where I was lead consultant on developing Communications Strategy and Action Plan fort he Southern Sudan Bureau for Community Security and Small Arms Control.
It is honest and truthful to say that these experiences were the more thrilling compared to a desk job as Consultant Editor with Juba Post newspaper, or News Manager with City FM. Sitting in on a meeting with senior advisors tot he Office of the President would never measure up the excitements of an arrest with a stark deathly joke of facing “firing squad” in Unity State’s Bentiu.
It was always memorable to interact on an unprofessional level with the likes of William “Bill” Kosar who had been leadinga a USAID-funded assignment with Deloitte Consulting as a Legal & Legislative Advisor to the Ministry of Legal Affairs & Constitutional Development of the Government of Southern Sudan. In that role he provided strategic advice on the Transitional Constitution, drafted over 40 laws, and trained and mentored dozens of government lawyers. Needless to underscore is the fact that like it is with many Europeans and Americans, there was a tinge of surprise whenever I showed up in a meeting. Young, petit and observant—I had developed a reputation for speaking only when spoken to. It would be soon concluded that I wasnt truly Southern Sudanese! “Ah, why didnt you say so…you had to have lived outside this crazy place and people” I would be told in unison.
I remained indebted to my direct supervisor, Brian Pinkowski. He picked me up for the unlikeliest of assignments. My first task being to help the Southern Sudan Anti-corruption Commission build a media presence—by translating a perception survey into news items, developing talkibng points fort he chairperson of the commission as well as influence media related components of the national Anti-corruption Strategy and Action Plan.
In reality, life away from mainstream journalism was as exciting, if not even more rewarding when the paycheques came. With not so much responsibility and the proclivity of youth, all manner of indulgences were swept under the carpet. Juba was the most expensive city for good reason. We easily washed away drinks and food in hundreds of dollars in an evening.
My realities have changed and wit hit I must adjust. I must make use of what I have. Of the €29.00 a week; I must invent creative ways to save. If budget has never been a worry of a reporter, it is now a daily routine. I have found a way to save €20.00 weekly. The remaining €9.00 is just enough to stock bread and variations of meat slices which make up my breakfast and lunch.
It is not just me. The mother of my daughter has to also adjust. Other than earlier savings (which have shrunk over time and were very dismal any way), she must learn to budget too. She must make €20.00 sufficient for their weekly needs. It was difficult at the start, but am glad, she now reports savings from what I send her. This week, I will send another €40.00 from two week’s savings to cater form y daughter, Adele’s school trip as well as pay for other basic needs.
Some of the money, I have been informed, will go to bus fare and final package (monetary and food items) for Adele’s baby-sitter who, after returning pregnant from her holiday last Christmas; must now return to the village in northern Uganda. It is a difficult decision for Adele’s mother. I was anti-abortion from the first news of the pregnancy. For this, we had to bear part of the responsibility. I wish her well. Adele respects her much more than us. She will always be a friend to my daughter. But now she must also be a friend and mother to her own child as a priority.
My Pakistani friend was transferred to an asylum center in Goes. We had a long chat. He remains lonely. His attempt to make friends was dependent on learning to smoke hashish. Failing miserably, he is alone all over. His wife too, understands that it is difficult for her husband tos end any money. So, I shared my money-saving strategy. He will try it this week. If he is able to save €10.00, that would be a big step.
Like many other things that have worked as if they were planned; Adele’s baby-sitter will receive a complete birth delivery package (towels, basin, soap, baby oils etc). How did I have these items beforehand? I did not! To put it bluntly; a lady had duped my Disapora cousin into a false pregnancy! Confirming my earlier suspicion that there was any pregnancy in the first place, or if there was any pregnancy, it wasnt form y cousin and that the baby had already been born. I openly declined to handover the baby-shower gifts. At least, these gifts have found a more deserving receiver. I can not say the same for my cousin.