2am “Oncall, oncall for ICU – we have one child yes, they are convulsions…” I jolt into wakefulness and am out of my bed and running over to the hospital as fast as I can go telling the nurses to prepare IV diazepam down the radio as I go. This could be anything, but always think worst case scenario… I arrive on the ward and yes, this is actual convulsions, a four-year-old with cerebral malaria.
Many memories of South Sudan will remain with me forever. Sad memories of seeing first-hand the dire circumstances many people have to endure or of witnessing the death of a small child. Disturbing images like seeing a small boy play with an imitation AK47 possibly trying to mimic his father or other men. But mostly happy memories of seeing a mother’s joy when her child gets better, the appreciation of our staff for training and coaching given, the surprise on people’s faces when I talked to them in my few words of Nuer, of working together with the rest of the team and of the beautiful sunsets.
With this clinic we definitely saved lives. People were in real difficulties in the bush: not enough food, mosquitoes biting people, everyone drinking very bad water. Our clinic was not perfect, but it was better than nothing, and we saved lives.
Kaderia* doesn’t know how old she is. As she tells me her story I try to guess her age, she looks about fifty but perhaps her difficult life has made her age quicker. As she talks her face betrays a life of difficulty and anguish but also a look of pride and defiance.
‘My village was a very good place, except this war when people came and destroyed everything and chased the old people until we eventually escaped and came to a safe place. The whole village was burned down.’ She says a lot of people in the village died in the attack.
Kaderia explains that nothing like this had happened in their village before this year. ‘I don’t know why these people did this, maybe they wanted to take the land from us’ she explains.
Cormac blogs about meeting Kaderia, a woman still coming to terms with the violence that uprooted her from her home in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains several months ago. Please leave your questions and comments for Cormac in the comments box below his post.