We fly into South Sudan on our nine seater plane after a short touchdown at the Ugandan border for passport control. From here on habitation on the ground is zero as we fly over miles of scrubby forest. After about eighty minutes we glimpse in the distance our first settlement. We are approaching Ibba. The pilot as agreed circles over the school for photos. We glimpse across to the airstrip and notice no one is waiting. Have they forgotten we are coming? A pitch perfect landing sees us at the end of the runway and suddenly a white Land Cruiser pulls out of the scrub. We are greeted by Bridget the school founder and Richard the head teacher. Lots of hugs and laughter.
As we drive down the track to the school Bridget points and says "What is that?"
Is it a new fence painted maroon? No, it is an ordered avenue of girls, and as we descend from the vehicle the singing and clapping starts. What a delight. We parade down the avenue of smiling and happy girls. We were all grinning like Cheshire cats none more so than Bridgette herself.
We spend the next hour greeting, hugging and laughing with old friends and meeting new ones. As we glance around at the site it is clear there have been major construction developments since we were last here. New cookhouse, dormitory and staff accommodation with more building in progress.
The girls are sent off to class following their fabulous welcome for they have exams next week and are keen to do well.
- Paul Sanders