My first full day on the ground in Juba was, well slow. I headed off to the office of our partner organization, the Agency for Independent Media, with my JHR host and fellow trainer, Grant McDonald. When we arrived we discovered no one else was at work yet, so we had tea. Tea breaks, I’m told, are very important. When in Juba!

When our friends arrived we set out to get me registered in country and accredited as a journalist in South Sudan. We went to office after office, meeting what felt like the entire Ministry of Information, greeting each person individually. It’s not so much a hand shake, as an embrace, and it happens every time you enter and exit a room. It takes a great deal of time but I find it kind of refreshing when you consider we North Americans rarely communicate without hiding behind a screen of some sort. 

I noticed one of these very high ranking officials did not make eye contact with me as I sat directly across from him in his office. Even when he seemed to be addressing me, he looked at Grant providing deeper  understanding of JHR’s efforts to engage women in media.

Our local partner, David, proved very resourceful in navigating quickly through some very long lines.  I’m still not sure how he did it!  Then we went for lunch. Lunch breaks, also very important here. During lunch we received a call saying I had been given the wrong receipt for my media pass. So back to the Ministry we went; you get the picture of why it took all day.

Also noteworthy are the large framed photographs of the president hanging in every office. Not uncommon in many African countries but ironic considering how difficult it is to take photos here. My instinct is to take pictures of everything I see, but I’m told it not only upsets the locals, but is also a sure way to be arrested. I am interested to see how the local journalists get around that.    

Work begins Monday. Stay tuned.