Dear friends from South Soudan:
I have not left Juba yet and I already miss you all.
I want to thank you first for all the things I have learnt with you and for all the wonderful stories that you have told me. I have seen the temple of Nyikang, the Shilluk king that never dies, close to the tree where people go to proof their innocence because if they lie they die.
I have heard that Dinka and Nuer ancestors come from the first humans on earth and that they quarrelled because one took the young calf meant to be for the other. But you have taught me how all the tribes, kawayas included, can work together as a big family.
I want to thank the most smiling cleaners in MSF records for the miracle of having an impeccable hospital in the middle of the mud. And for sharing their morning tea with me ;-) To the log team for big things as building and keeping the hospital in perfect conditions but also for small things like postponing their duties to look for a piece of soap for a mother who need it. To the cookers that bring happiness to the stomach but also to the ears when they are singing or to the eyes when we see their children playing around. Also to the drivers that offer to go to anyplace even if it can be dangerous for them.
And what to say about the amazing medical team we have. The imagination and patience of the nutritional assistants to find new ways to make our little babies accept the food and grow healthier. Or the divination power of our nurses and nurse supervisors to decipher my handwriting to know what is the treatment I want for the patients ;-) Thank you for the tender care you give them and also to keep them alive. You are the ones keeping permanently your eyes on them so we all can run to help when something goes wrong. If you didn´t pay attention to them, we always would arrive too late.
Special thanks to the unquenchable enthusiasm and energy of our CHWs that are our feet, eyes, ears and mouths outside the hospital. They can go tent by tent saving lives by explaining people how to prevent diseases or looking for a sick kid or an abducted woman or a man that didn´t come for the treatment. Without you we just treat the people that come to us, with you our hands can reach the farthest tent of this POC. You know how proud I am of all of you.
Forgive me because I cannot name you one by one but I will make a few exceptions:
Thank you Daniel for being the first one suffering me, for making a perfect follow up of the TB patients and for improving so much. If the new clinical officers and we all make the same effort you do, we will become an even better hospital and project.
Gentle, a soldier that becomes a clinical officer is a metaphor of the future I wish for this country even if you had a different name ;-) Thank you and all the rest for assuming the responsibility when we needed you even with the music of war being played so close to us.
Simon Dau, I know people in the new extension are happy having you there, but we need your big heart back in the hospital as soon as possible. Patients need your perfectionist notes in the ward, your patience in the ER and your stiches are definitely nicer than mines ;-)
To compensate we have Simon Angelo, the angel of Wau Shilluk that blessed us with his presence also in the hospital. We have been very lucky to share your experience in Kala Azar and your medical knowledge but apart from that you have been a good friend in both sides of the Nile River. I hope that this friendship with all of you will remain in both shores of the Mediterranean Sea.
And thank you Obaj for carrying the Mental Health of the team and the POC over your shoulders. Better thanks than mines are the ones you receive in the waterponts, or the ones you listen from women that were not speaking to anybody before or the colourful drawings of the children that you keep playing and happy. Without you, their reality wouldn´t be so full of colour. Keep on doing your magic, we all need it more than ever.
We could also call ourselves Translators Without Borders ;-) You know that when Wau Shilluk was attacked and everybody logically run away, Samuel, one of our translators stayed there alone and gave the treatment to the TB patients. And also in the hospital Kawayas we cannot work without you and if we understand South Soudan people a little bit better, it is obviously because of you. Thank you for that and pass my admiration to all the Wau Shilluk team for rebuilding the tent and the project and going on helping people there even when we couldn’t go for such a long time.
You see, as I have told you so many times, you are a great team. We all need the support of the donnors, and the lead from capital but you can work with or without kawayas. May be even better without us changing things all the time! ;-) Anyway, please treat Eliezer and the others with the same love you treated me.
And last but not least thanks to the patients, the reason for all of us to be there and the more resilient people one could imagine. Thanks to our children for playing with me and for explaining me how is the house of hippos under the water. And to the adults for the bracelet you gave me. It will remind me all of you.
Someone told me that when God (Kwoth, Juok or Nhialac) got angry with humans and broke the scale to heaven, at least he left the blue bird Otok to stay with them. I hope that sooner than later we will all see the blue bird of peace flying freely above the wonderful green lands of South Sudan. You are the best proof that it is possible and the best team to take care of the people of this country in the meanwhile.
Sucran kathir. Thank you all and see you soon. Insha Ala!