CUAMM awards obstetrician diplomas in South Sudan

As a ceremony is held this week in South Sudan to award diplomas in obstetrics from the school run by Doctors with Africa CUAMM, the organization's director says these professionals will give children and the whole country a chance for the future.

By Francesca Sabatinelli - Juba, South Sudan

In 2017 Grace, Amina, and 18 other boys and girls were granted the joy of being of service to their people and, at the same time, of realising their dream.

Today, reliving these same emotions are 10 other students who, today, are receiving their diploma in obstetrics at a school founded in 2014 in Lui, in Mundri East county, in the state of Western Equatoria. The school was renovated by Doctors with Africa CUAMM.

South Sudan is the world's youngest state, ranked 185 out of 189 on the Human Development Index, with the world's worst maternal mortality rate, and with childbirth and pregnancy among the leading causes of death.

Ten new obstetricians and midwives

"It is indeed a young state, but it is a slab of land actually floating on a sea of oil, which everyone covets. This is what the war is about," explains Fr. Dante Carraro, director of CUAMM. South Sudan is lacking in local resources, in all sectors, including healthcare and therefore maternity.

The organisation has been supporting the hospital in Lui since 2009, the only referral centre for a local population of over 170,000. In 2013, the renovation of the obstetrician training institute began; at that time there was one for twenty thousand deliveries.

Receiving the diploma, during an incredible celebration, as it was for the 20 young people in 2017, are 10 boys and girls, a low number due to the Covid pandemic, which halted the course.

However, the training programme will soon be fully operational again. Fr. Carraro continues, saying "they are young people, who have the desire to become midwives and obstetricians and we pay for the school, but also for their lives, from food to accommodation."

Hope of staying in South Sudan

The director goes on to add that "South Sudan is in such a condition that our first goal is for the boys to go and work in the hospitals here, where hundreds, if not thousands, of births a year occur, and where there may not yet be a midwife. Only a few months after graduating in 2017, several of the new graduates had already found jobs in hospitals supported by CUAMM. In addition to realising the dreams of these young people, the school allows them to give a chance for a future to those who only flee when forced to do so, when faced with impossible living conditions. When you give the opportunity," the priest goes on to explain, "people also recover the pride of being a protagonist in the growth of their own country."

Magdalene Awor at work
Magdalene Awor at work

School in Rumbek

Now, following the example of the school in Lui, another school has been opened, in Rumbek, Lakes State, and it is there that one of Lui's pillars is now located, Magdalene Awor, a Ugandan midwife, Project Manager of the Rumbek Health Sciences Institute on behalf of Cuamm, but also a tutor supporting the students.

"We support the second year of nursing and midwifery; we have 52 students in all, among them only 14 are women," she says. "They come here for various reasons, to acquire medical training to then be able to help their communities and their families, others do it to then have a job, and therefore a life and a future."

CUAMM intervenes with uniforms, meals, accommodation, and anything else that can help with training, including paying the teachers in part.

A classroom
A classroom

A laboratory of humanity

The success of the Lui school is that, in addition to being a laboratory of humanity and sharing, it also represents a moment of unity and encounter between the two great ethnic groups that make up the country: the Dinka and the Nuer.

These two groups have also destabilised the country with violence. "The school," concludes Father Dante, "gathers young people from all parts of South Sudan, and is a laboratory for human and relational growth among the students."

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08 July 2022, 17:20