Trench foot

It’s rained non-stop again. And the camp is flooded.

This time people have made attempts to prevent flooding of their homes, some more successful than others. 

We hear of two blind neighbours, a man and a woman, whose homes have been flooded. We try to locate them with a plan to have them moved to a drier part of the camp. This means wading into the deeper water. And of course the water enters my gumboots. Ivan has done this repeatedly over the past few days and now thinks he has trench foot! Tango David and Outreach David (our nicknames to distinguish the two Davids) lead us to the homes and they are indeed flooded, but empty. Neighbours tell us they’re at the food distribution so the two David’s go off in search of them.

Meanwhile I’m helping CONCERN to count the number of shelters that have been damaged. We need an idea of how many homes need to be moved so that we can lobby for higher land. It’s interesting to see how people have attempted to stem the damage, either by digging holes within their homes or creating dams around their homes. The usual circus ensues and I have children climbing all over me shouting “Kowaya” but the people seem to appreciate that we’re not just ignoring them and we are assessing the damage. I bump into Tango David and I greet the blind woman and her grandson who he’s taking to the MSF hospital. We’re going to house them there until their new home is built. The blind man is already there, drying off.

Andrea, our anaesthetist, needs some materials for the operating theatre and we can’t wait for the next MSF flight bringing in supplies. She knows these things might be in the MSF hospital in neighbouring Bentiu town. We had been operating a project in Bentiu town for years, mainly supporting TB and HIV patients and those with kala-azar. We had to evacuate a few months ago when we heard forces were planning to take the town. Some of our national staff escaped into the bush with their patients, others stayed behind with those patients that couldn’t be moved. A total of 28 national staff and patients were killed that day and the hospital was looted.

So Andrea is going to cross the checkpoint and see if she can access the hospital. The GoSS forces let her through. Despite being located in a camp full of their opposition, MSF is impartial, and we had treated some of their soldiers when fighting broke out 3 weeks ago, so they have no problem letting us through. Andrea finds all the materials she needs. Luckily they hadn’t been taken during the looting. In fact Andrea is having a good week. One of our cleaners just named her new baby girl Andrea.

And at the end of the day I get a piece of wonderful news. The child with the red MUAC that we had tried so hard to admit during the MUAC screen has been discharged! He’s not out of the woods yet but he can continue treatment as an outpatient. The mother, originally distrustful and doubting of us, thanks MSF, the relief and happiness written all over her face.