My mission in the Nuba Mountains

by Juliane Grothe

As I arrived in the Nuba Mountains in the South of Sudan, I was welcomed wholeheartedly and accepted instantly as a full member of the hospital team. I was taken by the warmth of the Nuba. This made it personally for me considerably easier to enter this totally different and unknown world. From a professional point of view as a nurse I felt strange to be confronted with much more responsibility and extensive activities and the need to act accordingly.

Our hospital with about 50 beds is divided in an emergency, a ward for obstetrics as also accommodation facilities for children and adults. In addition to that a small laboratory and pharmacy is also placed in the complex.

My workday in the clinic in the Nuba mountains

My job was to visit the patients, to diagnose and treat diseases, to take care of wounds, to assist in the surgery room, to plan timetables for the staff and list procedures for treatments as also school often untrained staff on the job in all areas. For this I needed for example knowledge about diseases as also the knowledge of diagnostic and treatment possibilities, familiarity with medication, hygiene and documentation.

In the first weeks most of my tasks were new and I felt quite insecure about it. In addition to that I did not bear the daily heat that easily as I also had difficulties related to of my limited language capabilities. In my free time you could see me then – as you can still see me now – to study books either to improve my subject or my language capabilities. I do study as hard as I have not studied since my time as a student quite a bit time ago.

Visitation in Arabic

In the meantime everything goes much more smoothly. I am able to do the visitations partly in Arabic. I can treat typical diseases like malaria, pneumonia and other infections, diarrhea, burns, abscesses as also malnutrition without any problems. Day by day things become easier and with each patient leaving the hospitaI healthy again I become more selfconfident as I feel the certainty to be in the right place and to do the right thing.

Geschichten vom Krieg

As the possibilities of diagnosis and therapy are limited, many patients unfortunately die, among them a lot of children, who in Germany would receive a complete treatment and best healing chances. It is not easy for me to accept these circumstances. But with the certainty to do my best to everyone in need with the possibilities given here things have become a bit more bearable for me.

Many patients wear clothes with wholes on their bodies. As they are here for seven days they wear those same clothes for seven days. There are no diapers for children and this is the reason that time by time I step into a puddle or return from my visitation with a wet smock. But to see the glowing eyes of children – sometimes fearful or not believing because of white human beings treating them –  is very much rewarding for me.

Stories of the war

Sometimes I hear stories about the war – which are for me very hard to imagine. Devastating fates about personal losses, flight and suffering in this region of war since many years, neglected by the media and the world public of our planet earth. Inspite of this the people often still have a smile on their face, a friendly word on their lips and are still beaming to you an almost stoic serenity. What they have go through and suffer since so many years regularly it is hard for me to imagine even faintly.

So I surprise myself looking in the sky, when I hear the Antonovs circling around or when I hear the vibrations of detonations of bombs in the distance. For the people here this is a normal day and inspite of that life goes on.

After 6 months I have the feeling, I am here already for a long time and I have arrived. I am curious, what will be next for me and I hope, that the small wonders will outshine the big tragedies, under these unreal circumstances, in this wonderful, barren landscape somewhere in the South of Sudan.

About Juliane Grothe

Juliane, 31, coming from Hamburg is working since the beginning of this year as a nurse in the Cap-Anamur-Hospital in Lwere, in the midst of the Nuba mountains.