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01/31/2008

At the Height of the Dry Season in Sudan

0129 The JEN Overseas Office strives to assist those returning to Southern Sudan by improving the hygiene and sanitation conditions in two counties in the Central Equatoria state, where there are a large number of returnees. In addition to this, there are also hygienic education initiatives in place to further spread awareness about hygiene and sanitation issues.

It is the peak of the dry season here in South Sudan. However, in three months time, the rainy season will arrive and will continue for the following six months. We are only able to advance our construction efforts during the dry season when the ground is stable, and therefore it is a very busy time for our local engineer.

0129_2Early Monday morning, the engineer travels for three hours to the project site. He returns to the office in Juba on Saturday, only to depart for the project site again on Sunday. Day and night, the engineer monitors the progress of the construction, overseeing its progress to completion.

Unfortunately, this is the life of the JEN engineer; he is rarely able to return home even though he was recently married!

(PICTURE: Upper Left: Holding discussions with the community, Lower Right: The Community Leader with the JEN engineer)

January 31, 2008 in South Sudan |

01/24/2008

The Pros and Cons of Remote Management

Photo_2 Three months have already passed since we transferred our project operation center to a remote location. Communication limited to phone and emails has resulted in several accounts of miscommunication. At times we have difficulty communicating exactly what we need with the Afghan people. Tasks that could be completed in 5 minutes if we were communicating on a face-to-face basis, are instead taking 1-2 days.

There are many challenges that we are facing, but we should also note some of the positive outcomes that have resulted. Previously, the staff did not act unless instructed to do so, but they have now started to take their own initiative in finding solutions to the obstacles faced. Of course, this newfound attitude is still in the beginning stage, but we believe that this is an important step forward to reaching the objective of self-initiated development. With that in mind, JEN will continue to support these developments.

(PICTURE: A potted plant that we are growing at the Overseas Office)

January 24, 2008 in Afghanistan |

The ‘Well Machine’

20071106_sudan_jpf_lainya_borehole_ Hello everyone!

JEN has been digging water wells throughout our project sites around the world, but one aspect of this that has not received widespread attention is the ‘well machine’ that installs these wells. I would like to take this opportunity to explain how this machine works.

0122_2  All the water wells that JEN is presently digging in Southern Sudan are 80m to 100m deep. In order to dig to such depths, the machine often comes across extremely dense layers of rocks and clay. The machine crushes through the layers of rock and clay, and like a rocket taking off, lifts massive amounts of sand up into the air. Water then floods into the dried layers of clay.

20071120_sudan_jpf_lainya_borehole_ However, at this stage, the water is undrinkable. The machine must continue to crush further through layers of rock and clay until it reaches depths of more than 100m underground and finally arrives at water that is clean enough for use.

January 24, 2008 in South Sudan |

The Playful Hearts of a Construction Company?

124

Given the present security situation in Baghdad, international staff members are unable to go directly onto the project site. We monitor the progress of the construction and maintenance through pictures taken by our local staff members in Baghdad.

Amongst the pictures we received last week was one of a both beautiful drawing of a playful animal drawn as part of the construction. In the past, we have seen flower patterns and slogans, but this is the first time we have seen an actual drawing.

JEN covers the outer coating of school buildings in the construction, but it does not include pictures. The paint used to draw such pictures on the walls is at the personal expense of the local construction company. The local construction company that oversees the construction work for JEN projects is chosen through an appropriate bidding process.

The two schools shown in these pictures have both been given positive assessments in their past projects with JEN. The fact that the company purchased the paint at their own expense despite the ongoing competition amongst the contractors may have been a sign that they wanted to display the high quality of their reconstruction. Or perhaps they wanted to provide a modest gift to the children that live in the midst of such hard times. 124_3

In any case, it is incredibly wonderful that these delightful drawings are creating happiness for both the teachers and students alike.

January 24, 2008 in Iraq |

01/17/2008

Today is Cleaning Day

0117 On the morning of 14th Jan 2008, our office security guard suddenly started cleaning the area in front of our office.  He was unusually serious when he explained: “If the army comes and I am not cleaning, they will pick me up!”  Since it seemed so urgent, I gave him a broom and a plastic bag and let him clean up around our office. I did not dare to ask for more details at this point.
(Picture; the rubbish everywhere in the town of Jubbah)

0117_2 Later I asked the guard the reason why he had to clean today.  He told me that the day before there had been a radio announcement informing everyone that tomorrow would be ‘Public Cleaning Day’. That morning, some of our local staff were also stopped by the South Sudanese Army, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), and asked: “Where are you going?” “Why are you not cleaning?”  If they had not had any excuse or business to do, the army would have taken them to the town market directly where they would have had to join the cleaning event.
(Picture; The guard, cleaning up) 

0117_4_2  I was impressed, because this Public Cleaning Day was done thoroughly using combined efforts even with the army. Thanks to this day, the road in front of our office is now very clean.  In fact it is the cleanest I have ever seen it since I came here 4 months ago.
(Picture; the clean road in front of our office)

January 17, 2008 in South Sudan |

The New Year: a Time for Happiness

117_2 Two weeks have passed quickly in the New Year.

There are relatively few national holidays in Iraq and Jordan. However, towards the end of last December, there was a rare streak of holidays including the Festival of Sacrifice, Christmas, and both the Christian and Muslim New Year. Kirieche, a homemade Iraqi sweet, was made and shared to celebrate the Festival of Sacrifice. 

As the holiday season continues, JEN, with the support of the Japan Platform, are continuing our project to provide renovation support to elementary and junior high schools in Baghdad.

On January 11th, Baghdad saw it’s first snowfall in over ten years. To those who have never seen snow, it seemed to rouse a renewed hope for a brighter future. Since last fall, Iraq has been seeing slow improvements in the security situation. More positively though, last December there was a law passed approving the return of former Ba’th party members back into public office. With this, the country took their very first steps towards national reconciliation. 

We hope that 2008 will bring fortune and happiness to the People of Iraq. This year, we are hoping for your continued unconditional support for the children of Iraq. 

January 17, 2008 in Iraq |

01/10/2008

A New Year, New Challenges

First, I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year!

In addition, I would like to express gratitude for all of support of JEN’s activity over the last year.

With your support in 2007, we were able to conclude our tsunami relief projects in Hambantota in Southern Sri Lanka. Moreover, we were able to begin our new project, which aims to improve living conditions for victims of conflict in Batticaloa in Eastern Sri Lanka.

Unfortunately, early into the New Year, we received the concerning news that the government of Sri Lanka will revoke the mutual ceasefire agreement signed with the Tamil anti-government organization, the LTTE, back in 2002.

It seems uncertain when this country can reach peace and during periods of conflict, people suffer from both physical loss and psychological damage.

We, at JEN, are striving to extend a helping hand to those people who are not covered by the media or general reports and activities in the region, but still require help to cope in situations of conflict.

We hope to have your continuing support this year.

January 10, 2008 in Sri Lanka |

A Holiday-less New Years

Site_visit_ns_c1 Afghanistan is a largely Muslim nation, and therefore, unlike the Christian tradition, New Years pass without any holidays. With the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, representatives from organizations, and individuals, we are continuing the ongoing school construction.

However, Afghanistan is undergoing a harsh winter, and unfortunately, due to the bitter cold and snow, construction is not proceeding as smoothly as we had hoped.

During most days, the temperature during the day ranges from 2°C to 5°C, but the temperature drops to around -15°C at night. Moreover, there was a heavy snowfall as we entered January, which prevented us from doing construction work for about one week.

R0013159 However, we are hoping to see the bright, smiling faces of the children come springtime when they are due to start school. With that hope in mind, we will not let the cold get to us!

January 10, 2008 in Afghanistan |

New Year in Africa

Jen Happy New Year!

Thanks to your support, we were able to start the New Year with our newly established JEN office here in Sudan.

Last year, we were able to both improve and spread awareness about water and hygiene conditions.

Johnkok By the time we complete our projects, wells and bathroom facilities will have been installed in five schools, which had the highest need, in the counties of Terekeka and Lainya in Central Equatoria in South Sudan.  Through water sanitation and hygiene education in both these states, we were able to promote healthy lifestyle practices to 3,000 people to prevent waterborne diseases.

Just as in 2007, we hope to continue our efforts to improve water sanitation and hygiene conditions with your assistance, as well as that of the local people here in Sudan. Throughout this coming year, we hope to be motivated by your kind generosity that reaches us here in Sudan, where it is warm all year round. 

Payaya_2_2 I would like to extend my warmest wishes to you for the New Year. Thank you for your support, as always.

January 10, 2008 in South Sudan |

Bougainvilleaes

1220Rain brings a look of delight to the faces of the Jordanian people after a long period of drought.

After the rain came and went for a few days, I was delighted to spot a small bud of green arising from the red dirt in the outskirts of Amman. In Jordan, although it is difficult to see any green outside of the spring season, it is possible to spot some Bougainvilleaes flowers from time to time.

This flower reminds me of a scene from my favorite television show that is set on a beautiful wharf covered in Bougainvilleaes.

I was surprised to find out that my special flower is called ‘The Disorderly Flower’ here in Jordan. Upon asking my friend where the Bougainvilleaes got such a name, my friend suggested that perhaps it is because the stems of the Bougainvilleaes grow in such random, disorderly directions. It is true; the stems of the Bougainvilleaes at our office grow in different directions. Then, from these disorderly branches, an orange flower will suddenly bloom from the light pink stems. Thinking about this, I understood the Jordanian interpretation of the Bougainvilleaes.

I was shocked when a local staff member later told me what the Bougainvilleae were called in Iraq – ‘The Hell Flower’. This negative name is puzzling to me, because contrary to the names they have been given, Bougainvilleaes seem to be appreciated in both countries!

January 10, 2008 in Iraq |

A New Year, New Challenges

First, I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year!

In addition, I would like to express gratitude for all of support of JEN’s activity over the last year.
With your support in 2007, we were able to conclude our tsunami relief projects in Hambantota in Southern Sri Lanka. Moreover, we were able to begin our new project, which aims to improve living conditions for victims of conflict in Batticaloa in Eastern Sri Lanka.

Unfortunately, early into the New Year, we received the concerning news that the government of Sri Lanka will revoke the mutual ceasefire agreement signed with the Tamil anti-government organization, the LTTE, back in 2002.

It seems uncertain when this country can reach peace and during periods of conflict, people suffer from both physical loss and psychological damage.

We, at JEN, are striving to extend a helping hand to those people who are not covered by the media or general reports and activities in the region, but still require help to cope in situations of conflict.

We hope to have your continuing support this year.

January 10, 2008 in Sri Lanka |