Dr. Henry Reitzug of Puyallup, a member of the board of directors of Lakewood’s Northwest Commercial Bank, is on a mission to Darfur, Sudan, as part of Tearfund, a leading relief and development charity, working in partnership with Christian agencies and churches worldwide. Dr. Reitzug has been sending his observations of the country and people and we are reprinting them (in a series) with his permission. Read the other installments (one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen)
Khartoum, Sudan – Friday 5/30/08 – 10:30pm (10 hours ahead of Tacoma, WA)
Friday is the Muslim day of rest so there was no work today. The Christian community here has taken that as their day for worship — there is also a Sunday time of worship for traditionalists. So my teammates and I had a large breakfast and then went to the KCC (not to be confused with the KFC) ‚Äì the Khartoum Christian Center. The 2+ hour service had lots of prayer, testimony of a wounded soldier who is quite miraculously healed and walking after having his buttocks shot off eight months ago (literally both buttocks with much collateral damage, three different hospitals, surgeries, etc.).
After that most of the team went to the German Club of Sudan. Yes, the German Club of Sudan! For the most part, it is an oasis of sorts for NGO’s, ex-pats from every country imaginable, as well as some local people, all hanging out by a large pool, with poolside beverage and food service. After cooling off by swimming I read a book in the shade. A nice way to rest but I am getting anxious to get going. Saturday here is like our Saturday at home and not much happens.
I won’t be able to fly to Darfur until Monday because they have to get all the official travel documents for me to fly there. The level of fussiness approximates the degree of difficulty in getting into Afghanistan. It seems the more god-forsaken and dangerous a place is, the harder the government makes it to get to.
I walked a lot today, between breakfast, church, German Club, and dinner and I noticed an oddity that reminded me of Albania in 1999 ‚Äì missing manhole covers ‚Äì I mean everywhere. Not a manhole cover in sight! What do you do with stolen manhole covers? Anyway, each opening is 2 foot square and probably 3 feet deep.
I also noticed that the parts of Khartoum I have seen do not seem as desperately poor as, say Mexico City, Maputo, Mozambique, or Kampala, Uganda. The people often seem fairly well educated and in general are very attractive – looking. Certainly, the level of desperation seems lower as does the danger level. That will all change in Darfur, I am told.