Having a mother is a precious gift in life. It means care, comfort and hope, but above all, love. However, in South Sudan many children grow without experiencing any of these. One such a child is Nyandior Malou of Diayar Payam, Rumbek County Lakes State.
Nyandior lost her mother when she was barely ten years of age. This was a turning point for her because after the death of her mother, her father and three sisters moved to a cattle camp. Cattle camps are temporary settlements in the plains, located where pasture and water can be found. To protect their animals from predators and cattle raiders, Dinka herders band together to form cattle camps, with hundreds of animals in each camp.
A normal day for Nyandior is to wake up in the morning and gather firewood and drinking water. Her older sister will in turn cook for the family. One day, this routine was rudely interrupted. “I woke up with a high fever and was given anti-malaria drugs. I then went back to sleep under our tent,” says Nyandior.
While she was sleeping in the tent, Nyandior heard gunshots all around the cattle camp. “I knew the best thing was to stay in the tent. The gunshots intensified with bullets flying all over. Eventually, I was hit by two bullets, one in each leg.”
Nyandior had been caught in cross-fire between government forces and the Dinka cattle keepers, as the former tried to disarm the latter. The cattle keepers are believed to keep firearms that are used in clan conflicts and other unlawful activities.
Hope in Amref Health Africa Surgical outreach
Nyandior was bleeding but did not know what to do. She feared for her life. When the guns went silent she was taken to Rumbek Hospital on a military vehicle accompanied by her father. “The soldiers dropped me here and left,” she says.
Nyadior’s father was feared that his daughter would not walk again. But he was relieved when he learnt that there was a team of visiting doctors who would attend to her. “I was told there were Amref Health Africa doctors here who can help my daughter. Indeed they operated on her and I am very grateful,” said Nyandior’s father.
According to Dr Mapour Mading, an orthopaedic consultant with Amref Health Africa, Nyandior was anaemic because she had lost a lot of blood. “The family donated blood so that we could operate on her, and we managed to get the two bullets out.” Dr Mading assured Nyandior that she would be able to walk again and do her usual tasks.
Nyandior’s story represents that of hundreds of innocent children in South Sudan who are so often caught up in crossfire. Due to poor medical attention precipitated by the country’s weak health sector in the country, most of these children end up disabled.
Efforts by Amref Health Africa South Sudan to give hope more children like Nyandior is hampered by insufficient funds. Sufficient funding would allow the organisation to conduct more clinical and surgical outreaches in all remote areas where conflict has left bullets and injury in the bodies of many.
In August 2014, Amref Health Africa outreach surgeons held 597 consultations and provided surgical treatment for 194 patients in South Sudan. Many of those who benefited from the outreach services were children and women.
The outreaches were conducted in Bor in Jongelei State, Rumbek in Lakes State, Kuajok in Warrap State, and Juba and Kajo Keji in Central Equatorial State.