Moving to Yambio, South Sudan wasn’t ever in my plan. Frankly speaking, I had no idea where Yambio is. I had heard of Sudan, and then of South Sudan when it declared its independence that made it the youngest country in the world putting my own, Kosovo, at the second place but I didn’t imagine myself moving there. However, seven weeks ago, after having spent a week in Juba undergoing induction training, I flew to this state of South Sudan to commence my work and a new phase in my life.
Beforehand, I’d been checking Instagram for #Yambio pictures and found less than 300 (as of today there are 300 exactly – lots of them are mine). So, I didn’t know really what to expect only that I knew there’s not much.
Soon after I settled down, there were suspicious cases of Ebola as Yambio is about 25km far from the Democratic Republic of Congo. This paralysed my plans of going outside the compound and visiting the market and the surroundings. Other employees did that but I was new and frankly speaking didn’t want to die (9/10 people who don’t undergo treatment die of Ebola and 6/10 who do still die).
I, however, had a few trips outside the compound during these seven weeks I’ve been living there. Once, I went for some inspection of a site in the middle of nowhere. But it was fun. It was freedom – especially after having spent some time just inside the compound. The other time was when UN Volunteers in Yambio prepared a program at a local school to celebrate the International UN Volunteer Day. It was lovely to be there and to listen to some very bright kids expressing their concerns and also sharing their knowledge on various topics (early marriages, Ebola, AIDS, etc.).
A couple of weeks later, I took the courage to go outside and this time it was a short visit to a pond/lake, or what it is called Green Beach. It definitely doesn’t seem like a big deal and not a tourist attraction but try living in a compound and you’ll change your mind. The downside of this place, which is probably conditioned by the lack of electricity, is that they only serve water, soda, and beer (it’d be good to have food also).
As UN staff, we have our limitations to where we can go and where not. As of now, there’s only one hotel in Yambio that we can go to – Tourist Hotel. I did go one time hoping to have a lunch different from the one I have at our tukkul (restaurant) within the compound but the cook wasn’t there or wasn’t willing to cook or I don’t know.
The market in Yambio offers almost everything in terms of clothes and other items but it’s limited into the groceries it provides. However, I can order monthly food through ES-KO which comes to the compound since there’s no market/shop inside our compound and I’ve heard he shops outside aren’t supplied that much (limited choices or not what I’m used to).
Regardless, it’s an enriching experience and I’m committed to make the most out of it.
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