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South Sudan
Posted May 20, 2018 by Tony O'Riordan

Latrine Mishaps and Lessons Learnt

Estimated read time: 3 Minutes

It had occurred to me that this might happen! So I had prepared.

You see a knife is a very handy item here. Before I left Ireland I bought this small and simple pocket knife which was useful for cutting string, opening boxes and cutting onions - one of the few fresh vegetables in plentiful supply here. During the mango season, my new knife was in its prime – and sliced through the fresh mangos no bother. On occasions apples arrived by plane from Juba, the knife was on hand to slice and share.

So you are getting the picture – a good knife is a most useful possession.  Never knowing when it would be useful I decided I would keep it in a little holster attached to my belt. It had occurred to me that I needed to keep the holster behind the last belt loop of my trousers, so that when undoing my belt the holster would not slide off the belt.

Well last Tuesday morning I dressed in a rush and in my hurry placed the holster with the knife on the other side of belt loop. I noticed this at the time, and made a mental note that I needed to correct my short-coming in dressing for the day ahead. It was a particularly busy morning though and I soon forgot about things like belt loops, holsters and knives.

Fast forward a few hours when I had a call of nature and needed to visit the latrine. Latrines are large 20 feet deep pits on top of which is built a concrete slab with an opening into the deep pit below. This is what we use for calls of nature.  For those of you who have not used a latrine before, I am not going to give any more details here. ( you can google or use your imagination)

Anyway I proceed to the latrine and was not mindful of the position of the holster on my belt.. As I undid my belt, well yes as you can imagine – the holster along with my precious knife slid off the belt and fell unceremoniously into the deep pit below. Bye bye knife –

Not before you begin to feel sorry for me. Don’t. It was my own mistake and it had occurred to me that this was a risk. It was a thing I wished had not happend, but one of the many things that happen because we are not perfect! But there is also another way to look at it. I am fortunate to have access to a latrine. 80% of people in South Sudan do not have access to one. So I can smile at this little story knowing that I am blessed to have access to a latrine!

I might suggest these is a lesson here for life. Sometimes in life we have to let go of something precious to us. While sometimes we must grieve, there is wisdom in finding a way to focus not on what we have lost, but on the ways have been blessed to have enjoyed what was precious to us and to know we are still blessed. Perhaps this wisdom is one of the gifts of the Spirit who's coming among us we celebrate on Pentecost. Come Holy Spirit!




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