News from Rumbek

Heatwave holiday and what we do during it

It was the middle of the midterm break and most of the students had already gone home, when we received the news from the national Ministry of General Education and Instruction that all schools had to close until further notice due to an exceptional heatwave. Of course, our teachers, interns, and clinic staff are staying in the compound to be ready as soon as the schools are allowed to reopen.

So, it has become pretty quiet here this last week. On a normal day up to 2,000 people bustle around Loreto Rumbek. This was particularly noticeable in the primary health care clinic. Our staff are always on hand every day to treat all the ailments, both big and small, of the 1,600 or so pupils. This week, the clinic team decided to double the outreach instead of just sitting around.

Every week, the clinic staff pack the car full of chairs, tables, papers, and medicines and drive to the meeting place in the nearby village. Many people are already waiting in the shade of the trees, mostly mothers with their children and young women carrying their babies in the traditional goatskin bag.

However, older people, leaning on their canes, also wait quietly in the midst of the colourful group. There are always a few men sitting on the sidelines and some young boys wearing a blue cloak, which shows that they come from the neighbouring cattle camps.

As soon as the car is offloaded, things move quickly, but efficiently in this small mobile clinic, including registration, weighing, taking of temperature, consultation, and a malaria test if necessary. In the end, most patients leave with a small bag of medication that they have collected from our “car-pharmacy”. There they are also told once again in their native language which medication they should take and how to take it.

At the end of such a mission, the team typically treats between 60-100 patients. In the rainy season, there are sometimes 200 people, due to the many cases of malaria. However, the present dry season presents different challenges and with all the dust people here are increasingly struggling with respiratory problems.

Skin diseases, stomach pains, and all the other minor health problems are also treated. However, patients with more serious illnesses have to be referred to the local clinic. While the staff finally stow their things back in the car, people set off on the often kilometre-long journey home.

Of course, we are now eagerly waiting for the school to reopen, but we would also like to say a big thank you to our clinic team for using this unanticipated break to support the people during this difficult time.

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