Seeing Partnership Working - A report from Dr Lillian Craig Harris

Kadugli, the Nuba Mountains

I spent two weeks in Sudan in May, visiting Together for Sudan project sites in both Khartoum and Kadugli, capital of South Kordofan, in the Nuba Mountains. The atmosphere in Kadugli was somber and schools as well as government ministries were on strike against non-payment of salaries. A tough new governor, lately Minister of State for Humanitarian Affairs in Darfur, was sworn in during our visit. Meanwhile, the small Together for Sudan project centre was full of community leaders attending a one week course in Community Health Care funded through Together for Sudan by Light for the World, an Austrian charity which has also partnered with TfS in Eye Care Outreach.

TFS medical assistant with patient

A patent receives follow up eye care treatment after an earlier outreach in the Nuba Mountains.

Visitors came and went including a delegation from the former SPLA controlled area which had came to ask for help to educate women and illiterate teenagers who had lost out on schooling during the civil war. They thanked TfS for funding training for their elementary teachers as well as for paying the teachers salaries at one school in their area. As the visitors left I mused over how little we are able to do in comparison to the need, particularly in view of the present international financial crisis. But, as always, hope continues to surprise us in the Nuba Mountains.

At Kadugli hospital TfS Country Coordinator Neimat Hussein and I came across one of the few remaining Nuba Mountains medical assistants as he was following up our latest Eye Care outreach. The even better news was that the Eye Care Outreaches in the Kadugli area (made possible by Light for the World partnership with Together for Sudan), an ophthalmologist has been engaged by the Khartoum hospital and a small ophthalmic unit is being set up.

Then, as Neimat and I left the hospital we were joyfully greeted by one of our TfS funded university graduates. Mecca Said Komi studied Family Sciences at Ahfad University and is now working as a nutritionist at the Kadugli Hospital. Some 40 or more of our university graduates are now back in the Nuba Mountains as teachers, health workers, and employees of both INGOs and the local government. They, too, are playing a role in changing their world.

Khartoum Area

A young boy with one eye missing

This young boy will receive an artificial eye.

Dr. Shadia Abdul Khair, an ophthalmologist who works with Together for Sudan’s Eye Care Outreach, was checking the eyes of street boys rounded up into a government shelter some 50 kilometres from Khartoum. For most, if not all the 120 boys examined on that day, this was their first eye care and, indeed, their first examination by a medical doctor. Infected eyes, including trachoma which can cause blindness, and eye injuries are common among abandoned and runaway children. As necessary the boys were provided with cough remedies, antibiotics and vitamins in addition to eye care. Glasses, as needed, would come later. A strong wind blew through the straw shelter, carrying sand into the faces of the rows of boys, many pre-teenagers, who waiting on mats. I was about to leave when Dr. Shadia pulled me over to look into the face of an eleven or twelve year old with an empty eye socket. Had he injured himself? Had he been beaten? The boy (see photo) could not or would not say. “Ill follow him up with an artificial eye,” Dr. Shadia said. The boy himself seemed bemused by all the fuss, but Dr. Shadia and I, knowing how a little loving care can change a life, smiled at one another in anticipation.

Lillian Craig Harris, Ph.D., OBE. Director, Together for Sudan

Please note that in 2013 Together for Sudan was renamed The Women's Education Partnership. Lillian now operates as a valued trustee and not as director.