There are so many cool things I’ve seen in the last four months. I thought I’d pick 10 of my favorites from Madagascar and South Sudan since February, not in any particular order.
1. Babies on heads. Yes, there’s a baby in there. It’s what they do in parts of South Sudan. It’s simply too cool and a first for me to see. Motot, South Sudan
2. Strange beauty. We tattoo our bodies – they cut patterns. Kapoeta, South Sudan
3. Women who carry the heavy stuff on their heads. It was the women, not the men, who carried the cargo from the plane to the clinic. It never ceases to amaze me what women can balance on their heads in Africa (even babies!). Mayendit, South Sudan
4. Children who make homemade balls. I’ve seen this in all sizes in the bush, including soccer balls, all made from found items. Mayendit, South Sudan
5. Rest for the weary. “Mama Eunice” (as her younger colleagues call her) with Medair, was ready for a break from work in the bush clinic, heading for Juba from the remote village of Ganyiel after MAF delivered a plane full of cargo. I’ve heard people talk about how it feels when they are in the middle of nowhere and hear the MAF plane approaching. Eunice has been evacuated many times by MAF, for medical and security reasons. Once when her team was running from gunfire, she fell and broke her arm. When MAF came to rescue them, she said it was “like angels” coming. People like Eunice are true VIPs. Ganyiel, South Sudan
6. People who are easily entertained. The men in this village found the signing of a cargo sheet to be fascinating entertainment. Longochuk, South Sudan
7. Homemade Toys. I’ve seen incredibly creative home-made toys in the bush. Who needs Toys-R-US? Kapoeta, South Sudan
8. Pilots with hidden talents. I was quite impressed to see these two MAF pilots, Daniel and Ryan, jam after a day of flying in South Sudan
9. MAF planes taking off in the bush. I love watching the planes take off and land from bush airstrips. Usually I’m on the plane, not on the ground, so it’s a treat. This particular strip had tall grass that was nearly too much to land on. Madagascar
10. Beautiful Late Afternoon Light. South Sudan isn’t exactly a beautiful country. A lot of flat land. But on this day, the light turned the landscape into something magical. The White Nile channels criss-cross the landscape in the late afternoon.