There were three unforgettable events in my life as a humanitarian worker.
The first happened in 1993 when I was entrusted a little boy’s life when his mother died in a refugee camp in Bor, South Sudan. He became an orphan with no known relative. Severely malnourished and almost a skeleton, I took the role of a mother aside from doing my tasks as a health worker.
The boy we named Phillip survived and after two years, his uncle came to take him home.
The next was when I was working for UNICEF’s Mass Measles Campaign Program in various locations in South Sudan that vaccinated over a million children. The campaign remarkably reduced the high incidences of measles outbreak that had claimed many lives of children in the country. I am proud to have contributed my efforts to its success.
My third was when I joined World Vision in April 2011 as Mother and Child Health Officer. In Renk County where I was assigned, World Vision works with the nomadic people from North Sudan. One day we received a report on suspected cases of measles among the population.
We met the chiefs and elders for a measles vaccination and attend to pregnant and postnatal women, including their newborn babies. The leaders granted our request and 47 children were vaccinated while the women were provided necessary with medical services. It saved lives of the children at risk of dying from the deadly measles infection.
Every day in the field poses different kinds of challenges. At one time, another severely malnourished 2-year old child named Kuol was brought by his stepmother in Lunyaker, a health facility supported by World Vision.
Kuol’s real mother had escaped and left her child behind after his father died from the fighting in Unity State. Together with the nurses, I took care of Kuol until he recovered. An elderly mother in the camp accepted our request to care for Kuol while we monitored his condition.
I came to love Kuol as my own child and he also showed his love for me, too. After a time that no one came for him, I decided to discuss with authorities if I can adopt the boy and prepare him for school. He was fast growing, started walking. But before I can do it, an uncle took him away to a cattle camp. I have not heard anything about him since then.
Many of the issues I faced throughout my work were related to young girls and women suffering from abuse and sexual exportation. The men always entrusted such cases to female colleagues. As a woman working in a humanitarian organization, I am always compassionate with vulnerable children and women, being a mother myself.
I encourage women humanitarians to continue serving the most vulnerable across the world. In every woman, there is love and peace to share God’s work.
Rose Achan is World Vision’s Health Project Officer based in Renk County, South Sudan. Before this, she has extensive experience on maternal health and nutrition with many other international organizations.