Twenty-Four Hours in Aweil.

I landed in Aweil, South Sudan on the afternoon of April 20. The landing strip is located in the middle of the village, joining the two sides. When there is no aircraft, the landing strip is a soccer field where kids play football while watching their cows. It is also where trucks from Kisangani and Kampala offload their cargo, filling the strip with cycling villagers and smaller trucks. Before landing the pilot flies over the strip at low altitude to chase away any living creature. Once this warning is given and the "airport" is vacated, the pilot then comes back to land.

I have twenty-four hours in Aweil to build a concrete base for the office satellite communications dish. This system enables us to cut down the communications costs dramatically, so I really have to get it up and running before the plane picks me up again. And I only have one day to do it. The challenge is to find casual laborers to help me build the concrete base. The rest of the work, I can do by myself.

After hiring a dozen of them who resign minutes after they have taken the job, I am introduced to these Darfur refugees who accepted my terms and conditions: work through the night until the concrete base is done, load the gravel, the bricks, the iron rods and transport them to the site. They take the job.

We work from 14:30 and complete the work the next day at 03:00 in the morning. At 08:30 we continue, plastering the bricks. This is when I take a picture of this man. This daily labour is a refugee from Darfur. He has little or nothing. Not even a home. He lives in a camp. He worked through the night and still, he smiles. It is comforting to see this smile.

A smile from a man with barely nothing, but his heart

When I pay them in the evening, they look at me like someone who just gave them an award or a present. And yet, the salary is their right. They are thankful while yet they did ME a favour!

I leave wishing I could be more of help to them another day. I realize this is what I enjoy about working in this part of the world. In all of my actions, I get the chance to see its immediate impact on the people, on the beneficiaries. I will never regret having chosen to work here. Here I get what a big salary or a promotion cannot give me: the feeling that I have been of help to a human being.

Story and picture by Cyprien Hiniolwa (Camp Juba, Southern Sudan).
Edited by “E” and Peter Casier

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Anonymous,  23 May, 2011 23:28  

My boss is going to Southern Sudan next month. He is bringing some laptops to show the villagers that have never been on line before what the internet is like, etc.

Here's the problem, as far as he knows, He is no where near a cell tower, can you tell me if this is the case?
If there is a cell tower I need to get him SIM cards, etc, where do I get them from? who sells them?, how much are they? and how can he connect to the internet with a SIM card. He will have a laptop with him.

If there is no cell tower. I assume he needs to go Satellite to get internet? What companies specializes in this? How does He do it? He will need something that's very small and compact, etc, like a satellite suitcase? can he rent it? how much is it? Can you help with any info on this subject?


Remember,He needs to get online in the city of Aweil, Southern Sudan .

Eliot P.

Peter 24 May, 2011 10:56  


There is GSM phone connectivity, with data in Aweil, but it is flaky at best.
You will not be able to import or move with a satellite system at this point. You won't even get it into the country.

As you might have seen in the news, North Sudan (including Aweil) is in the hot spot of the North/South conflict right now, and a lot of the population has fled. So I strongly recommend you guys to look for a quieter spot.


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