herald

Thursday 8 December 2016

Barbecue goat on menu for festive dinner in Sudan

Charity

Aid worker Chris McElhinney
Aid worker Chris McElhinney

For most people, it's a toss up between turkey or goose for their Christmas dinner - but one Dubliner will be tucking into a goat.

Aid worker Chris McElhinney (32) is an Emergency Co-ordinator for GOAL in South Sudan, where conflict has been raging since December 2013.

He will spend the festive period living in a one-man tent, and goat and beans will be the main meal tomorrow.

"I normally spend Christmas at home in Artane with my family," said Chris.

"This is my second Christmas away. But I don't mind being here as I was home last year, and me staying allows other staff to celebrate with their families," he said.

Conflict

Chris works in Melut County in Upper Nile State. He manages GOAL's emergency response programme for people who have been displaced by the ongoing conflict, most of whom are now living in camps.

"Our accommodation is basic. Most of the team live in one-man tents, with a mattress and a sheet for bedding. We have a communal shower block, a toilet and there's a tree for shade.

"This is temporary accommodation, as our compound was destroyed during fighting in the area in May," he said.

"We haven't had a lot of time to re-establish a good living area, as most of our resources are going into our emergency clinics and latrines for the population in the area," he said.

"Christmas Day is a public holiday in South Sudan, so most people will be with families.

"Hopefully the day will be quiet, as in, I'm hoping no major emergencies arise or the security situation doesn't suddenly deteriorate; neither of which are uncommon occurrences in this part of the world," he said.

"As GOAL is running primary health care and nutrition programmes, we will, of course, be on standby for emergencies.

"All being well, I'll try to be useful, like helping to light a fire and barbecue a goat," he added.

The team Chris lives with - five men from South Sudan - will be with him tomorrow.

"We'll eat goat and beans, share presents, and hopefully get to relax for a day," he said.

GOAL continues to support more than 700,000 people in South Sudan, where more than 1.5 million people are displaced.

Visit www.goalglobal.org for more information.

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