Walter James (SOS Femme en Danger – SOSFED): Walter graduated in 2006 from the University of Minnesota. Following college, he worked on international development in Haiti and Senegal, and studied human rights and international development in Senegal, Costa Rica, and Morocco. Walter first visited Eastern Congo as a 2009 Peace Fellow for The Advocacy Project, where he documented the work of civil society organizations such as SOS Femmes en Danger, Arche d’Alliance, and Tunza Mazingira. The following year, he graduated from the University of Maryland School of Public Policy with a Master’s degree in Public Policy.

Travails [originally posted 7/21/2011]

12 Aug

Nothing is ever that easy for an AP fellow, and the Congo is no exception. The month of July was marked with sickness and plague, among other things.

On Tuesday, July 5th, I fell very, very ill. I lost my appetite and my body ached all over. I had a horrendous fever. The next week or so would become the most physically painful of my entire life. At first, I tried to avoid all medical care; Congolese healthcare is so incompetent you’d be better off tying a noose around your neck than check into the Uvira hospital. On Thursday one of my new roommates referred me to a West African doctor, who ordered a bunch of tests and discovered that I had hit the trifecta: malaria, typhoid, and a urinary tract infection. The doctor immediately started giving me what I needed: antibiotics, antimalarials, and drugs to get my raging fever down. On Friday, he checked me into a hospital in Bujumbura so I could continue receiving care over the weekend. I received injections of quinine to combat the malaria, which made me partially deaf for a few days. All the while, I still had zero appetite and was experiencing vomiting, diarrhea, severe headaches, a sore throat, and debilitating muscle pain. Needless to say, sleeping was hard to do, and my dreams were vivid and extremely painful.

On Monday, July 11th, the doctor picked me up in Bujumbura and brought me back home. It took a few days of vomiting, diarrhea, and more antibiotics, but after about a week of rest I think I could consider myself “cured”. I even got my hearing back. However, it was a bit of a bummer to be out-of-action on my 28th birthday, on July 13.

The turning point, I think, was when I suddenly felt the urge to devour everything in sight. Now, I’m pretty much back at 100% capacity. The memories of my trifecta illness, however, continue to give me the willies.

So, July was an interesting month. No cholera, please.

Walter James, during malaria/typhoid/UT infection

Walter James, during malaria/typhoid/UT infection


Posted Aug 12th, 2011


  • Karie

    August 12, 2011


    Walter! Goodness gracious. I’m so glad that you’re feeling better now. Take care of yourself out there!

  • Dina

    August 15, 2011


    Hi Walter,

    We haven’t officially met, but I remember you coming to speak to the AP Fellows during the summer 2010 training. I’ll never forget your story of you and Ned charging your computers at a phone pole (?) in some storm, as that was the only way you could! DRC sounds mighty challenging indeed. Glad you are recovered! You’re hard core! Keep up the amazing work!


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