The conditions in South Sudan are dire.
The remote reaches of the country carry some of the worst and most alarming health statistics on the planet. In Jonglei State where the Alaska Sudan Medical Project is working, children die needlessly of disease and malnutrition.
After having been embroiled in a devastating civil war with the North over the last 40 years, and as the world’s newest country, the health infrastructure in South Sudan is in critical condition.
Old Fangak lacks infrastructure needed for locals to lead healthy lives. They have a lack of clean water, food, and proper health facilities. There is no electricity, running water or roads, severe food shortages, limited communication, and a widespread prevalence of disease. Due to a lack of clean sources of water, the locals drink out of the Nile River, which increases the prevalence of deadly diseases.
The diseases are difficult to treat given the poor conditions. Patients are treated for malaria, kala-azar, TB, polio, brucellosis and medical team members work late into the evenings, caring for the sick and treating week old wounds using just a head lamp for light.
There is opportunity in Old Fangak and there is hope.
The situation is not hopeless. Progress is possible, and has been made. Dedicated volunteers and staff of the Alaska Sudan Medical Project overcome many challenges to bring help to Old Fangak. The challenges these volunteers face are highly unusual. There are no roads, no infrastructure, no tools, and limited communications. All supplies must be shipped to the village by charter flight or barge, and offloaded by hand.
A long rainy season from April to October makes work almost impossible during that time. ASMP has a short window in which we do our projects, from November to March.
With determination, the team overcomes these logistical challenges to bring clean water, agriculture and health projects to the region. The situation is improving. There is a renewed sense of hope in Old Fangak. People are seeing the results… health is improving… more clean water is available… more food is at the table and in the market. A new day is dawning in South Sudan.