This is how they bury their dead. This burial site is just a few yards away from the homes - the tukuns (mud huts) on their compound.
As of March, 2005, we experienced peace in Maridi County. The peace agreement signed in January seems to be working - at least at this time - and southern Sudanese are hopeful, very hopeful.
Still, you will be required to visit the SPLA offices when you enter the country and as you enter each city where they have a presence. You must carry with you your SPLA pass/photo ID, go through the interrogations and examinations and sign or initial their book.
This is the only way they have of keeping track of who is coming and going, and for the most part we found them to be professionally polite but serious.
Do not take any photos of SPLA buildings, government installments or officers without permission. You will risk arrest if caught.
We visited with a family of which most of the members have been afflicted with river blindness. They live out in "the bush", which is definitely off the beaten path. They depend on others to help take care of them.
Maridi, in New Sudan, is one of the cities of southern Sudan looking forward to this next six years of building and renewal. The people of Maridi are peaceful, kind, gentle people, eager to learn, eager to become self-sufficient, eager to heal and prosper.
While the only electricity available is via solar panels (few and far between!), and there is still no running water, and roads and buildings are a shambles, the people of Maridi are prioritizing and setting goals for their future.
New leadership seems to have incredibly clear vision and resolve, planning for education, health care, roads and other development.
They have expressed a need for spiritual Christian counseling, to assist them in strengthening their hope and faith; in healing from the many years of the atrocities of war and genocide.
Fondest memory: The very best of Maridi is in it's people and it's local leadership, the Bishop and the Commissioner.
While the SPLA still oversees things on the federal level, and is quite thorough in maintaining order, the encouragement for growth and renewal, for healing and thriving will come from the local leaders and from the spirit and strength of these people.