An inspiring visit to Bor in Jonglei State

The AID team are readjusting to the chills of North-East England after spending a week in South Sudan, monitoring programmes, catching up with project managers on the ground and checking out the site of our latest venture: the Bor Institute of Health Sciences. There were encouragements, frustrations, moments of doubt but also great hopes and dreams for the future.

The Inspiration and the Challenge of the Bor Institute of Health Sciences

Children in Jonglei State
Children in Padak Village, Jonglei State

One of the most eventful and useful parts of the trip was a visit to one of the proposed sites for AID’s latest project: the Bor Institute of Health Sciences (IHS). The civil war has left a serious lack of medical professionals throughout the country and the IHS looks to reverse some of the country’s dire health statistics by training healthcare professionals to clinical officer level.  See our dedicated web page for further information on this project.

The IHS will be located in Jonglei, South Sudan’s largest state (it is the size of England) and the one with the greatest healthcare needs. AID accordingly jetted off from Juba to Bor, the capital of Jonglei state, on a tiny World Food Programme plane to visit the site. During our time in Bor we were greatly encouraged by the enthusiasm that local people, doctors and state ministers have for this project. Again and again, it was said that what South Sudan needs is greater training, more staff and better understanding of how to use their own resources.

‘’There’s not enough qualified health workers. The population of Jonglei state is 1.7 million people and we only have 9 doctors, about 4-6 nurses and about 4-6 midwives.’’ Dr. John Kok, South Sudanese doctor.

The Inspiration

These are soDr John Kokme of the people whom we met during our visit to Bor who have increased our determination to see the project realised.

Dr John Kok a South Sudanese doctor who is the director of co-ordination and planning at Bor hospital.

‘’Definitely I’m excited about the IHS. It is a sign of hope for the people because it will really impact the services being delivered in the countryside’’

Dr John is one of the lost boys of South Sudan; one amongst many who fled the city of Bor as a child when civil war broke out. He was later sent to Cuba to train as a doctor and then ended up working in Canada. He has now returned to Bor, exchanging the comfort and security of life in the west for the basic hospital accommodation and unstable environment of Bor. He sleeps with a mattress on the floor and uses a cold bucket of water for a shower but is convinced and content that this is where God has called him to be. He has a deep concern for his people and great hope for the future.

Jihan Makuei Deng; Jonglei State Minister of Health. Jihan Makuei DengWe had several good conversations with the passionate and dedicated state Minister for Health.  She is determined to bring an end to the suffering of people in her state and sees the IHS as a key part of this.

Applications to the IHS are flooding in and it hopes to begin teaching students in mid-2014.

Twins at Bor Hospital

We met these twins in the Paediatrics ward at Bor hospital. There is not much inside the ward except for some beds, a couple of drips and a litter of kittens. It doesn’t seem much in the face of terrible diseases but these children are some of the lucky ones. There are hundreds of thousands of others who live too far from hospitals and are unable to access any medical help when they fall sick.  This is one reason why 1 in 7 children in South Sudan will die before their 5th birthday.

Dr Jenny BellDr Jenny Bell. AID also spent time with Dr Jenny Bell, a Canadian doctor who recently worked as a GP in Bath (England) for 8 years. Dr Bell will be part of the faculty at the IHS and has committed to living and working there for three years. ‘’There’s no doubt that it will have significant impact on the country and the state,’’ she says.

We were inspired by her dedication to the project in the face of many challenges and her conviction that God had called her to this position.

 ‘’You can only do it with a mixture of apprehension and excitement. I think you only do it knowing that God has called you to it because you can’t do something like this in your own strength. There are just a lot of challenges!’’