I never thought that my life will be so dynamic. Just a few months ago I was enjoying a glass of apple juice at one of my favorite restaurants in Makassar, Indonesia; and here I am now, in a vast barren land exposed to the blazing heat of the sun and not a bottle of water is enough to quench my thirst.
Since 2011, South Sudan gained its independence from the Sudan (North). Hence, the great Nile river, known to encompass several countries, has affixed a new name into its long journey crossing the continent of Africa. The world’s newest country, my new home, South Sudan.
The history of South Sudan is beset with prolonged civil war against Sudan(North). The war claimed more than a million lives, forced tens and thousands of its civilians displaced and seek refuge to another countries or places, and above all faced with health crises.
My first stop is Juba, the capital, but only temporarily. My destination is at the northern tip of the country – border of South Sudan and Sudan. Before my trip to South Sudan, I was told of of about some insecurities at the border. On my way, I see the vast and barren land and I asked myself who would dare to live in a place like that?
In Doro, I found the answer. They are the people who were forced to leave their land and cross the border to South Sudan to escape from aerial bombardments and armed fightings. Here, the rows of refugee makeshift camp transformed Doro, a no-man’s barren land, into a city of refugees.
Indeed, before I tread this country I never dream nor I believe that there are places most isolated - a place where life is very hard, where life is about survival.
In Doro, there are thousands of people who depend on humanitarian aid and carrying on with life without a promising future. Though the refugee situation in South Sudan didn’t got that much attention, the appalling humanitarian situation continue to unfold. In late 2012, in the young country’s Unity and Upper Nile states, roughly 170,000 Sudanese refugees are living in camps that were, for much of the summer, sprawling, muddy tracts of hardship and sickness.
In Doro, it is difficult to keep up with time. My work as a doctor is free from dichotomy of day and night, so it makes me seemed oblivious to the time. Patients come at any time, day and night, at peace or when there’s conflict, dry or wet season and therefore we must always be vigilant and ready. Patient’s life is a top priority than our time to freshen up.
It’s been a year since I hang up my white coat, my symbol of pride as a doctor. And now, I wear nothing but an old white shirt or a white vest that easily gets dirty during the day due to golden brown dust. The ward where I worked was simply a metal container surrounded by plastic tent with some makeshift wooden bed.
Everyday the small clinic is packed with patients more than what the clinic can accommodate. When refugees arrive in our clinic, some of them are too weak to stand from a long, ardous walk in crossing the border. Malnourished, frail and weak children fill up the ward. The children’s feeble cries echo day and night in MSF makeshift ward. It is difficult for me to watch them in dehydration or with fever that seems to never go away. In this place, a warm smile and a thank you is the highest fee I can received from a patient.
Not only I have to adjust from the living condition here but it was a challenge for me to provide the utmost attention each patient needs. Perhaps I was not able to provide an ideal medical services like what we have back home but at least, I try my best to give them back their pride and self regard as a human. That we are here to assist and be there for them.
It might never a dream to live in such an isolated place and work in a refugee camp, here I learned to better appreciate life, to never waste any single opportunity, to be thankful for all thelittle happiness that I often disregard. It is an amazing feeling to have a chance to see the world from different perspective and for the opportunity to be touched and inspired by so many amazing people. It reminds me that we, humans,are created to share and support each other, not to remain silent and complacent with the status quo.