A new clinic brings new life
In July last year, Save the Children supporters generously donated to an appeal to build three new health clinics in South Sudan. I travelled to Kapoeta North to witness the opening of one of these much-needed clinics.
Killer diseases such as malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea are commonplace for children here.
Previously people had to visit a small, dirty shack to receive their vaccinations, treatments, prenatal care and to give birth – which all happened in the same room!
Giving birth alone
Understandably, mothers who valued their privacy were reluctant to come, despite the dangers of giving birth at home with no medical support.
I find it hard to conceive that giving birth at home is normal here, let alone the thought of doing this in a dirty, dark hut with no drugs to ease the pain!
If a mother suffers complications at home, she has to walk up to 50km to receive medical help – in such circumstances not all new babies and mothers survive.
A nurse told us of twins born a few months ago. One of the babies died as the mother hadn’t been able to get the right vaccinations or support to keep the baby clean. A totally preventable and tragic death.
On the day of the opening, I woke up early, excited about seeing the money donated to Save the Children in action.
We hung balloons, and covered the front of the clinic with ribbon to cut at the end of the opening ceremony, which was attended by the entire community; a mix of mothers, fathers, health workers, and children.
I was asked to do a speech on behalf of Save the Children. Having seen how grateful the local community was to have the clinic, I was determined not to let them down, or the supporters in the UK who made this possible.
Local women performed traditional dance, and embarrassingly for me, had me join in, while school children sang songs and drew pictures of the new clinic. Everyone was so happy and thankful for the new facility.
First babies born – Adele and Jennifer
Early the next day Jenn, the Communications Manager for South Sudan, and I headed off to see if there had been any new admissions to the clinic. To my absolute delight we discovered that twin girls had been born at 6am that morning.
Their mother Aroun, along with the midwife, were quick to tell us that they would be named Adele and Jennifer after us and that we’d bring them good luck and fortune in the future!
Aroun was tired so I took an opportunity to hold baby Adele, who was only a few hours old. She was already opening her eyes and squirming around in my arms.
I really hope these babies have the luck and fortune that their mother believes we’ve brought them, and with the new health clinic to provide vaccines and treatments when they need them, they definitely have a good chance.
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