Part 5 Escalators and Faith: Juba, South Sudan

Lesson 5 Faith and Escalators:  South Sudan’s first escalator.

Author’s note: Read the entire post before you think I’m belittling this sweet woman on her first ride.

“We’ve only got three escalators in my good-sized town of 44,000.

Two are in working order and is broken. I can’t make fun of anyone,”


It is hard to describe South Sudan. It’s usually called “The Wild West.”


It’s a dangerous, dusty, and discouraging country.


But DeDe and I loved the people of South Sudan. In spite of decades of war and famine, they have a positive outlook. I grew to love them, and in return, they loved me back.


At the end of 2013, our team assigned Dede and me to move to Juba, South Sudan’s capital.


It was an assignment that both thrilled us and frightened us.


Just as the plans moved forward, South Sudan erupted into a violent civil war of tribal warfare that continues to this day.


The entire country, including Juba, descended into the hell of being called the world’s “Most Failed State.”


We never moved to Juba. It was unsafe to cross the border.


Our work moved to the Northern Uganda border, where hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese refugees fled across the border.


We couldn’t get to them in South Sudan. They came to us in Uganda.


 It’d be hard to describe the ensuing two years of walking beside these hurting yet heroic people.


When I Googled “Escalators in South Sudan,” I was surprised to see a working escalator in Juba.


I knew it wasn’t at the airport. It was one-storied and bullet-riddled.


What surprised me was that it was a working escalator. Hardly anything: traffic lights, commodes, and electricity work in South Sudan.


I was surprised that one of the warring factions hadn’t captured it and destroyed it just so the other side couldn’t use it.  


Or just because they could tear it up.


This video clip of the African woman’s first escalator ride isn’t meant to ridicule her; anyone who’s ridden one can admit to that same inner fear.



Before you think I’m belittling Africans and their first-world lives, I remind you of this:


I live in a sizable city of 44,000. We have three escalators, and one is broken.


I can’t make too much fun of anyone’s moving stairs.



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