Saturday, October 22, 2005


Well here I am waiting for some photos to upload to Snapfish and completely blocked about what to write. Something about a blank Blogger window staring at me makes me nervous and unable to have a creative thought. A Kenyan friend told me he applied for a job as a public health training coordinator with Peace Corps Kenya and was one of four finalists for the position. He didn't end up getting an offer, but I reassured him that he was better off because if he had gotten the job he'd have to live in Kitui.

"Ha!" he said. "Kitui is nothing. Try being taken hostage in Sudan."

Well that's not a metaphor you hear everyday, so I said, "Right, whatever. When were you ever taken hostage in Sudan?"

2001 to be exact. He was working for an NGO building water projects near the Sudan/Uganda border. At the time the Sudanese government militia was storming through villages burning everything in sight and taking suspected anti-government activists hostage. "Suspected" is used loosely; basically anyone they didn't know was taken hostage. So my friend's camp was looted and burned to the ground, and he was rounded up, along with three of his colleagues, and thrown in an underground prison cell for a few weeks. IN SUDAN. They were eventually brought out for questioning (I was afraid to ask if he was beaten or tortured or anything else; maybe I'll ask when I know him better) and then held in solitary confinement for another few weeks. All the while the story was making news around the world and Kofi Annan was negotiating with Sudan for their release. After 38 harrowing days my friend was allowed to go home, in one piece. He had requested that his wife not be told that he had been taken hostage until he arrived home safely, but she had heard on the news. He was immediately granted two weeks of paid leave from his NGO. Not the easiest way to earn vacation time. To this day his nickname in my village is "Sudan."

Well that story was retold purely based on my friend's word, but I am tempted to Google it to see what the press had to say, and to see if it made the NY Times or Washington Post.


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