Well it’s Sunday again, the last Sunday of my mission in Mattar. I’m leaving directly after the Pul-deng clinic tomorrow. The road is nearly fixed and we should be just about able to do a kiss movement.
I have mixed feelings about leaving. I’m concerned what will happen to the people out in the Never Never. In the last two weeks we have only been able to attend two clinics due to flooding, and of course the continued saga of the boat motor.
I’m concerned about the security issues and leaving the team alone. I’m concerned there is no handover and the clinics won’t ever get back to what they were. I feel sad to be leaving with so much unfinished business, when we were once running so well. I’m concerned the people who trusted and benefited from us, will now be forgotten.
I’m concerned that the selling off of land to foreign investors will force these people to seek other land to feed their precious cattle, that they will in turn be forced to fight for territorries, as they are pushed from their known pastures onto an ever-shrinking landscape.
For those of the Ethiopian/South Sudan Border, the sick, injured and displaced, those, the most vulnerable, those who have been abandoned, to you I am truly sorry.
On the other hand, I am totally spent. Sitting around the compound waiting to work, waiting for the boat motor to arrive, waiting for the floods to subside, waiting for the road to be passable, waiting for word about my replacement, waiting, just waiting, like a bear in a den awaiting the thawing of spring, has taken its toll on my spirit.
As my time here draws to a close, the staff have begun with “I need your hat, I need your watch, I need your shoes”, I feel like I’m on the ground dying, with the vultures circling over head, waiting, just waiting for my final breath before they swoop down to pick my bones clean.
The moral is at an all-time low, the silence around the dinner table is deafening.
Malaria is still rife, children are dying and all I can think of is those we have left, unreachable, without word, without help, without hope.
So it is with a heavy heart, that I farewell the people of Mattar, Moun, South Sudan, Ninenyang, Nib Nib, Jikow, Nyawech, Itang and Pul-deng.
The people of the crocodile, python and animal ancestors. The people who live for their cattle. The place where the sunrises in the same vibrant orange, pink and purple, as the sunset; where the beautiful children work from the time they can walk; where life is hard and death comes easy; where the river rises or falls by feet in a single day; where fish are so plentiful they are literally jumping out of the water; where crops can go from planting to harvest in a mere two months. But also a land where the ground turns from vibrant richness to nothing but dust in a matter of weeks.
I say goodbye to the people and the place that I’ve called home for the past six months. In reality I feel like I’ve been here at least three years.
I’m unsure of what awaits me, of where I’m going or what I’ll do, but I do know you can tell where I’ve been. I can see it in the gleaming eyes of the people, the exaggerated, shoulder pumping hugs, the extended hand-holds, the waves and vibrant smiling faces of the kids.
In every site, in every clinic, people refer to me as “my mother”, even the elders. They call for me by my Nuer name, Nyabouy, and in the last few days, this has broken my heart. My tears shocking them into shoulder pumping frenzies of “sorry sorry sorry”.
I know the time here has changed me, hardened me, numbed me, taught me to say NO. No I can’t give you, no I can’t help you, no I can’t take you, no, there’s nothing more I can do.
I have seen many many things, and learnt so much. I’ve worked as a logistician, precariously maneuvering my team through the ever changing landscape in order to reach the unreachable. I have worked as a doctor, consulted, assessed, tested, treated and prescribed for TB, Tetanus, HIV, leprosy, malaria, malnutrition, leishmaniasis, Kala-azar and a variety of tropical diseases. I have sutured, expelled, packed, realigned, cleaned and dressed, injuries resulting from gun shots, spearing’s, stick blows and the continuous wounds caused by clan fighting.
I have delivered and I have buried. I’ve seen life and death from Darwin’s perspective, had my spirit broken and my dreams crushed.
But despite all the trials and tribulations, I have seen great beauty, in the landscape, in the people and in the precious children.
I have been blessed, to be allowed this opportunity, to learn, to teach and to share my life with these people. The ones the world’s forgotten. For them my passion remains strong. I only wish for them, the peace, justice, and equality, that we all as one deserve.