|The day started quite early! I had to rise about 4:30 am in order get to the Juba International Airport for a 6:00 am check in time. Thankfully, my friend Samuel was there to support me through the process, one that was very unlike the process used in the United States and Italy.
I got checked in without difficulty, and ushered into the waiting room for the gate serving my airline. Then, the long wait started. One plane after another was called, but not mine. I worried that perhaps I had missed the call for my flight, and so I called Samuel, who assured me that I had not. More waiting. Finally, about 11 am—five hours after my arrival at the airport!—my flight was called. We all headed to a small propeller plane and climbed in. There were 15 seats and all of the luggage was stored in the back of the passenger section. The plane is Russian made and so are the pilots! I could hear them speaking Russian to one another.
Anyway, we finally taxi to the runway and wait, wait, wait, for takeoff. The cabin was hot and stuffy. Finally, we get airborne and we start to get some air in the cabin, and the journey proceeds smoothly to Yambio. When we land in Yambio, it is raining and so we are required to remain on board. Again, the cabin heats up. There are three small babies who are increasingly miserable with the heat and stuffiness of the cabin and they start to cry. After what seemed a long time, they finally allowed us to deplane. I saw the Solidarity truck there waiting for me, with John and Brother Chris Soosai, FSC, a De La Salle Christian Brother from Ireland who is the principal of the Solidarity Teacher Training College (STTC). I climbed in and was greeted warmly. As much as I appreciated meeting both of them, I also really appreciated the air-conditioned cabin of the truck!
We made our way through Yambio, and once again I witnessed the terrible poverty of this place. We finally arrived at STTC and I was immediately impressed with the beauty of the place. I joined the community for lunch and was able to meet Sister Jacinta, a Sister of the Holy Faith from Ireland, Brother Bill, an Irish Christian Brother from Chicago, Illinois in the United States, Brother Sylvanus, a Marist Brother from Nigeria, and Sister Margaret, a Sister of the Holy Child Jesus from Ireland.
Sister Jacinta is a ball of energy and enthusiasm! After lunch, I accompanied her to one of her classes, a lesson she had prepared “on the fly” for another instructor who was not able to be present. Then, back to the community area for a shower and a nap!
Nov 10, 2021
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