They cannot remember their ages or how long they have been married. They say this does not matter to most people in the Blue Nile anyway. It’s their five children that matter—and being able to stay together through the constant fleeing and oppression of war. Love's endurance measured, in part, by violence.
They fled the war-torn state of Blue Nile State in Sudan ten months ago after bombings overran their village. Without water or food, their family hid from the bombardments for three days, followed by a quick dash towards the border. The journey was difficult and his father and step-mother died along the way. Things became much quieter once they crossed the border into South Sudan and settled in the border refugee camps—first in Jamam and later in Gendrassa refugee camp.
But then she faced another battle. At six months pregnant, she contracted Hepatitis E. An International Medical Corps community health promoter found her suffering in her dark tent and immediately dispatched an ambulance.
In a camp of nearly 10,000 refugees, any sense of urgency drowns in an ocean of tents—stopping at one white tent to find directions to yet another white tent. The rainy season makes hard things harder. Mud caused the white Toyota Land Cruiser ambulance to slip and spin as it tediously rushed to her aid. An International Medical Corps physician and driver carried a stretcher across shin-deep waters and into a dark, stuffy tent where a handful of family members crowded around a sullen figure slumped over a bed. “Sabahl-al-kheir” (good morning) the doctor said and she looked up at him.
She was still alive.
She was quickly transported back to International Medical Corps’ clinic and immediately treated for early liver failure and a critically low blood glucose level. In the end, she and her baby were saved.
But they are part of a rapidly rising refugee population in Upper Nile State, South Sudan that is facing urgent health, nutrition and disease prevention needs. Conflict and hunger in neighboring Blue Nile State of Sudan continues to drive people across the border. International Medical Corps is responding in Maban County, which currently hosts over 100,000 refugees.
So for her and her baby and many more like them—thank you for supporting our work in South Sudan.
We often tell you about the individual lives our work touches so that you can understand the personal impact your support for International Medical Corps has. But in many ways, the sustainability of our efforts depends on the local health care workers we train. They help connect our critical health services with the people we aim to reach, and ensure that lifesaving skills and knowledge stay in local communities long after we’re gone.
So meet Semira (pictured).
Semira joined International Medical Corps in September 2011 as a Hygiene Promotion Field Officer working in the remote Dolo Ado refugee complex in Ethiopia, home to 10,000 Somali refugees. Here, International Medical Corps provides relief to thousands of refugees impacted by the severe drought that has inflicted wide-spread food insecurity and devastation across east Africa.
In Dolo Ado’s Kobe camp, Semira educates refugees on safe hygiene and sanitation practices to promote optimal health among families living in crowded and unsanitary conditions. Semira’s numerous responsibilities include conducting peer discussions on safe hygiene and sanitation practices at schools; weekly gatherings and focus groups for women; and house-to-house visits. She also organizes monthly jerry can cleaning campaigns at water points to ensure that families are keeping these containers (used to carry drinking water) free of disease-causing germs. To keep her skills up-to-date, Semira regularly participates in International Medical Corps’ monthly refresher training sessions.
Semira is proud of her work and notes that many of the households she has worked with have improved their hygiene and sanitation practices, including hand washing after bathroom use and before food preparation, proper disposal of household waste, and hygienic use of latrines.
Semira says, “I am hopeful that I will build on my community mobilization skills and hygiene and sanitation knowledge through additional capacity-building trainings provided by International Medical Corps…I also plan to go on to further education to gain management skills.”
It’s because of your support that Semira has positively impacted so many people’s lives in Kobe camp—and that she will continue to change lives for the better for many years to come. Thank you!
Four-year-old Mohamed* is the first child with Cerebral Palsy that International Medical Corps worked with in the Libyan city of Sirte. With bright, intelligent eyes, Mohamed was always smiling and laughing. He came to an International Medical Corps-supported rehabilitation center carried by his doting father, but was unable to sit independently and had very little controlled movement in his arms and legs. His parents were doing all they could for him—traveling to the center regularly from his home an hour outside of the desert city—but they needed professional help.
As Libya has moved from conflict to rebuilding, International Medical Corps has transitioned from emergency activities to longer-term programming, such as building the capacity of Libya's rehabilitation sector by training physiotherapists.
For Mohamed, we worked with physiotherapists to identify what he was and wasn’t able to do, and to plan how we could realistically help him most. After realizing that physiotherapy in isolation wasn’t going to be enough for him, we made arrangements with Mohamed's family to visit him at home. There, we showed Mohamed’s family how to stand him using a simple piece of wood and cloth, and how to stretch his limbs comfortably. We built a wedge from pillows so that he could use his hands to play freely and develop neck strength, and showed his family how to adapt a chair so he could sit with his hands free and start to feed himself. Mohamed’s smile and laughter only grew as he learned to grab his toys with both hands.
It’s thanks to your generosity that we were able to help Mohamed—and there are many other children like him that we want to reach. With your support, International Medical Corps has plans for more specialized training with physiotherapists across Libya. We will soon be introducing outreach teams to identify and work with more children in their communities.
So thank you for helping make Mohamed smile!
*Name has been changed to protect the identity of patient under the age of 18.