By Akol Arop Akol
Cont…Straight towards the mountain from a distance, we saw a grassy, stony and hard to climb mountain. Climbing was a big deal. We carried with us a Jerry-can of water to drink when we get thirsty. Really, some of us were first unable to climb because they never went there and they have never walked over long distance because they always use cars.
Just ten meters away from the mountain, we saw a young woman just under a short shady tree cracking stones with her heavy hammer. She was so concentrative on her work we thought she would not attend to us. We greeted her and she also responded in a friendly gesture.
“Oh, it seems to be a difficult work let me try it!” Bona Bol said. While we all gathered around watching and eagerly willing to do the sample too. The woman wondered why we interfered with her work, asking too many questions.
She stood up to converse and started telling us about how she gets the rocks from the mountain. “I go with my wheelbarrow hammer and hit to break the rocks into smaller pieces, and then I bring them here for more breakdowns.”
When we asked if she is comfortable and earning something in her job she declined, saying that she is new to the field and that someone who worked there before told her that breaking stones earned her a lot of money, that’s why she is doing it too.
We encouraged her and proceeded with our journey. With a smile on her face, she became happy as if we had given her something tangible. But words matter. She felt courageous.
Around the areas near the mountain, sounds of hammers cracking against rocks are heard. Bang! Bang! The rocks would scream noisily as the harmers would hit them.
Looking on our left-hand side, we saw people collecting cow dung and loading into a truck. It was at the slaughterhouse. There was decayed blood on the ground. At the other side, there was a group of strong men hitting a huge rock. The first lit fire on it and between the cracks.
As we went to them, some of our student journalists started snapping pictures (without seeking permission from these men), so some of them became annoyed.
One short tempered man was filled with too anger that he refused to be snapped. No one could tell why, but perhaps he refused because he was covered with dirt and sweat.
He behaved like he has never seen a camera. Too sensitive and this is what he said; “Look at you! So you want to take my photos and show them outside there ugh?” He angrily demanded.
“No please, it is for a moral purpose” one of responded. So we apologized humbly and explained our determination to collect information about their terrible life in the mountainous area. As they were all convinced, they put down their tools and spoke to us about their experiences with smiling faces.
One of them said, “Every morning, we come here to roll down the rocks and break them into pieces.”
“We load them into a truck that takes them to town. This is the only job for us, we sweat and waste a lot of energy to break the stones. Despite all these suffering, we are happy because we are able to provide basic needs for our families out of the little money we get from here.” He said.
We took photos and wrote about what we saw on the mountain. We don’t know really know how many steps we jumble. Legs could not take us faster. Slowly, we managed to go up.
Standing on the highest point of the mountain (the peak of the mountain), we could see the white shelters of the Protection of Civilian sites three (POC-3) camp Inside UN House.
On the top, there are many crosses fixed by some prayer-groups that we later confirmed to be from Cush International Church (C.I.C). They shouting “in the name of Jesus” while others responded saying “Amen”. It felt like we were in a plane above the Earth.
…It is a mountain of wonders. Please find out what these wonders of the mountain are in our last issue tomorrow