Story Publication logo May 21, 2007

Ready to go


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Gabriel Deng, Koor Garang and Garang Mayuol, Southern Sudanese "Lost Boys" in the U.S., were forced...

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Tomorrow we leave for Africa - Kenya first, then South Sudan - and I am totally crazed, running errands, taking care of last minute details. I live in rural, eastern Connecticut. One of my errands was dropping off some seedlings for a friend who farms. He has a couple of Rotweillers as guard dogs. I was glad to see the dogs were gone when I pulled up in my pickup truck. I hadn't counted on the rooster. I got out and deposited the plants and was heading back to my truck when that crazy rooster sidled up to me, its shoulders bunched, and quick as a flash sank its spurs into my calf. Drew blood through my jeans. Because I was leaving the next day, I dropped by the doctor's to check out the wound. My tetanus shot was up to date. She prescribed a wide-spectrum antibiotic in case the wound swelled.

Was the rooster's attack an omen? A prophylactic attack, to ward off snakes and other dangers in South Sudan?

If nothing else, it was a reminder that there are a few dangers here. But more to the point, I have a doctor to go to. Inoculations for Yellow Fever, Hepatitis, pills for malaria. Antibiotics if I need them. Things that most people in Africa don't have.

One of the Lost Boys that Jen Marlowe and I are traveling with, Chris Koor Garang, has raised more than $25,000 toward furnishing a clinic in the town of Akon, where we are visiting. Chris finished his last exams last week for his nursing degree, and will volunteer at the clinic while we are there. It's something he can do for the folks back home. We're also bringing some treated mosquito netting, which is probably the single most effective deterrent to Malaria.

We're all pretty excited about this trip.


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