Peace, Security, Health, Education

Publicity_shot Posted by Nigel and Carol Weallans on Sun, 21 Feb 2016 | 1 comments | Bookmark: digg this Post this to del.icio.us Post this to Facebook

‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ (Jeremiah 29:11)

Peace
January’s theme for teaching in the church was forgiveness. February’s theme is peace. There has been a peace conference taking place here in Ibba, with dignitaries and politicians attending from Yambio and Juba. The bishop says that there are people who haven’t talked to one another for five years, but have come together and are talking now. South Sudan desperately needs peace in order to bring about security and prosperity for the people. Please pray for continued peace here in Ibba, and for further peace and reconciliation across the whole of South Sudan.

Security
Since Nigel and I were last here in 2014 we have seen big changes. Conflict and insecurity have had profound effects on life in Ibba, even though there has not been any actual fighting here. Petrol is scarce and expensive, and because of fears about safety on the roads there are a lot less commodities on the high street and in the market. There are shortages of bottled water, fabric, plastic items such as storage containers, mugs, buckets etc., and various foods such as lentils. We have been boiling water from a borehole for drinking so that nobody would have to travel long distances to get bottled water for us.

It was not safe for a while for people to go to Yambio as there had been some disruption with rebels coming from the bush and shooting. This meant that people were not able to go back to secondary school in Yambio at the beginning of term, whilst others were unable to catch flights out of the country to continue training courses they were undertaking in neighbouring countries.

Things seem to have settled down now and several people have been to Yambio. This means that we now have Blue Band margarine and jam! Also, John Benington from Friends of Ibba Girls’ School has been in Ibba and has brought us some coffee!

It is interesting to note that there has been a constant supply of cigarettes and alcohol in Ibba throughout the insecurities. I have concerns about people selling cigarettes near to St Peter’s Primary School.

Education and Health
Nigel has started giving English lessons to the trainee pastors and their wives, whilst I have delivered three health promotion sessions to approximately 900 people, and one session to 28 members of the Mothers’ Union. The topics covered have been nutrition, safe water, handwashing and clean air (including advice about not smoking). Justin, in charge of the health promotion team, has delivered teaching on malaria and food hygiene.

The health promotion sessions temporarily came to a halt as the peace conference took priority, so I have been to the ‘hospital’ to visit the maternity unit there. Agenese is the only fully qualified nurse/midwife in Ibba. There are other ‘midwives’ who are able to deliver babies, but a lot of responsibility falls on Agenese because there are no doctors in Ibba, and Agenese has the responsibility of inserting cannulas, carrying out suction evacuations and prescribing medicines, and other responsibilities often carried out by doctors in the UK.

Agenese told me that the challenges facing them in Ibba are inadequate numbers of qualified staff and security issues, which mean that mothers are afraid to travel on the roads to the maternity unit.

I was surprised to discover that contraceptive implants are available in Ibba. Condoms are also available free of charge, but people in Ibba don’t like using them! Oral contraceptives and injectables are also available, but have to be bought from pharmacies on the high street.

There have been two funerals for little girls who died from malaria while we have been here, and we want to obtain mosquito nets for the vulnerable children of Ibba. We have had a good discussion with Seth, who works for the World Health Organisation, a meeting was held with Lydia, who runs the ‘hospital’ in Ibba, and other key players I hope that progress will be made towards obtaining mosquito nets and water purification tablets. Water purification tablets are available on the high street, but many people are unable to afford them.

I have visited the Ibba Girl’s Boarding School and met the head teacher, Richard. I also met the director of studies and the school nurse. Work has started on building the third dormitory for the latest intake of girls. This work has been delayed because of the recent insecurity, which caused problems with importing building materials. Until the work is completed, the girls are being housed in the other two dormitories with the other girls.

The work of this school is essential to the development of Ibba, as shortages of educated girls are resulting in shortages of trained staff for hospitals and schools in the area.

And now for the good news! When we were here in 2013 with a team of health workers from Moira, Northern Ireland, we came across a tiny malnourished baby of eight months of age. We knew her as Anna. Anna was being cared for by her grandmother, who was feeding her on maize flour in water. We brought Anna and her grandmother back to Ibba with us and she was examined by a clinical officer at the ‘hospital’. It was decided that she should be sent to a feeding programme elsewhere in South Sudan. We were told recently that Anna has returned home and is doing very well.

Comments

anne cook said Sat, 27 Feb 2016 06:22PM
How are you both in spirit and health? We were thinking of you at Swanwick and had lots of visual aids made by Lois and someone decided to put one of the nasty bug pictures in her husbandsbed! That would make him move! I wasthinking about the maternity care and how lucky we are here but midwives have great skills and experience and that counts a lot.We as a family are getting ready for Chrisand Kerry's wedding.I'm on my second outfit! Trevor Hatton will be marrying them in Wollaton at St. Lennards. There are a few babies so I'm having a creche so they will be singing too. Keep welland trust God for your needs. Lots of love and prayers. Annexxx

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