I’m waiting for the signal for my deployment to Darfur for three months. If all goes to plan, I’ll be in Pretoria on the 2nd of August and in Sudan on the 5th until the beginning of November, working as a psychologist with the South African peacekeepers.
“How are you feeling about going?” my supervisor asked yesterday.
“Mixed feelings” was my response. There’s excitement about the opportunity to work in a place which I’ve heard of in the news but which I actually know very little about. Anxiety about my safety. Sadness at being separated from L and my family for three months. And then a lot of little anxieties about whether I will cope there. What if it’s unbearably hot? How will I cope with the dust storms? Will I remember to pack everything I need? What if I get sick or depressed? Will L be OK in my absence? What about my bills back home? What if I need to do lots of trauma debriefing? Who will debrief me? I’m guessing there won’t be good internet access, which gives me a headache just thinking about it.
I’ve started doing some research on Sudan and Darfur and I’m hoping that the more information I have, the easier it will be to manage. I probably don’t want to read too much about the genocide before I get there. But I’ve ordered The Devil Came on Horseback by Brian Steidle and Gretchen Steidle Wallace. And then I looked for some personal blogs on Darfur and found that there were almost none. Two interesting-looking blogs which have subsequently gone quiet (I was going to say dead but that’s an unfortunate word-choice in the circumstances) are Sudanese Knights and the Notorious Echo-Victor-Echo, which I realised spells Eve.
I’ll post more on this in the days to come. For now, you will understand if I don’t make my usual rounds of blog-reading and if I don’t post some reviews here for a while. Life happens, I tell myself, and I need to deal with it the best I can. I just hope this headache doesn’t last for the full 12 weeks.
I’ve also been looking at images to give myself a mental picture of what it might be like. The first is of South African peacekeepers attending a funeral for fallen colleagues in July 2008 (taken from the UN). The second is taken from Sudanese Knights. (I hope she doesn’t mind.)