|After smooth and uneventful flights on Ethiopian Airways from Rome to Juba, South Sudan, via Addis Ababa, I finally arrived in Juba on Thursday afternoon. It was a pretty chaotic scene, as we all deplaned and were herded into a single small room where the health form we had been asked to complete on the plane was to be examined. There were way too many of us in that small, cramped, warm space, with no possibility of observing the “social distancing” that all of the signs on the wall encouraged. The cue lines were entirely unclear, but gradually we all managed to get to the head of the line and to have our form examined and approved. We then proceeded into the terminal itself, where I presented my passport and paid the required fee for the issuing of a 30-day visa. Finally, while all of that is transpiring, I see smiling faces! Two guys whom I have never met are there to greet me! I know they are looking for me because they are holding up a poster with my face on it! They are Emanuel, a gentleman who has worked for Solidarity from its earliest days, and a newly arrived De LaSalle Christian Brother from Spain, Brother Felipe Garcia, FSC. We proceeded to claim my bag and we proceeded to the parking lot.
Upon reaching the parking lot, I could tell immediately that I was in a place with many challenges, and yet one in which members of the international community were present and were seeking to provide aid. This was evident from the trucks marked “Medicins Sans Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders), “UN Peace Keeping Forces”, and “Catholic Relief Services”.
After a short drive to the Solidarity House, I was shown to my room and encountered, for the first time, a bed with a “mosquito net” under which I was supposed to sleep in order to avoid mosquito bites and the dreaded disease that often comes with them, malaria.
Downstairs, I was able to visit with Emanuel and Brother Felipe. I spent some time in the chapel, thanking God for a pleasant and safe journey, and we had a light dinner together.
Nov 10, 2021
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