There is a small sense of achievement to sitting at the gate in Khartoum airport waiting for our flight to board at 01:30. Getting to this point has felt like a challenge. Four times since we entered the airport, we have been turned back by officials who were displeased with the state of our tickets, passports or visas. That number does not include the three attempts that it took us to get inside the airport (“we cannot let you in yet. Come back in 10 minutes.”). We were almost foiled in our trip to the departure gate at check-in (no exit visa stamp), twice at passport control (wrong visa stamp then insufficient visa stamps) and again at the gate (no boarding card stamp). Having made it within reaching distance of the plane, there is surely no further opportunity to be stopped* and this feels like a small achievement.
This odd sense of achievement led me to reflect on how our time and the work that we do in Sudan is only made possible by the tireless dedication of the Nile Swimmers Team here in Sudan and the challenges that they face on a daily basis. While we have been here everything has been arranged and sorted by them.
Mosab, Hamid and the others – all these guys are volunteers who spend months in advance of our arrival selecting course participants, arranging training venues, translators, and all of the logistics associated with accommodating, feeding, moving and teaching 36 people for two weeks.
Once we arrive, they spend every moment of their evenings and weekends solving the inevitable problems that arise, chasing up last minute arrangements and keeping everything running smoothly.
Once we leave, they are the people that ensure that the work that has been put in by the participants over the last two weeks will be cascaded and continued until we return. Without the endless work that these guys put in, none of the training that we run would be possible and we cannot thank them enough for all the time, energy and effort that they throw into Nile Swimmers to make it the success that it is.
So, as we leave Sudan, it seems like the perfect time to say, Hamid, Mosab, thank you for all of your hard work and dedication to Nile Swimmers. We really truly could not do any of this without you!
*I was wrong – we were stopped once more boarding the bus from the gate to the plane (not clear why, but probably something stamp-related).