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I unzip my mosquito dome, clamber on to my thin inflatable mattress and quickly do up the zip again, to avoid the onslaught of mosquitos that would happily spend the night. The air is still hot and there is no power for the fan but I quickly drift into a hot, exhausted sleep.
I’m woken to the radio going off: the hospital is calling. I’m informed that seven patients have just arrived, all with gunshot wounds; a couple are in a critical state. I throw on some scrubs, meet my team members and we make the quick 30 second trudge through the mud to the hospital.
It is obvious when we arrive that there are two patients who need surgery immediately. We quickly examine all the patients and within 10 minutes we have one patient on the operating table. He has been shot in the chest.
While the surgeon, anaesthetist and operating nurse work away in the OT, myself and the two local nurses working the night shift begin treating the other six patients: inserting IV lines, administering fluids, pain relief and antibiotics and tending to wounds.
There are no lights at night so we work using a lamp and a couple of head torches. The first patient is out of the operating room and he is stable. It was a quick operation but most definitely a life-saving one. We bring the next patient in, the surgery goes well and once we make sure the all patients are stable and comfortable, we head back to the compound to get some sleep before the day starts again.
It has been five months since I arrived in South Sudan for my first mission with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
The country has spent almost two years embroiled in a civil war and the humanitarian needs here are plentiful. The ICRC has a huge operation in South Sudan, working in many different areas including the provision of health care.
I work as ward nurse within one of the mobile surgical teams (MST) currently deployed in the country. An MST comprises of a surgeon, anaesthetist, operating room nurse and a ward nurse and our role is providing emergency surgical care throughout the country, predominantly to the war or weapon wounded.
Since arriving, I have worked in five different locations and had the pleasure of working with some phenomenal colleagues, both international and local staff.
The field locations can often feel a bit like camping and as we normally go out for three weeks at a time, home comforts are sorely missed. As most of my mission has been during the rainy season, gumboots are always close at hand, as well as mosquito repellent, an essential item due to the high prevalence of malaria in the country.
The work itself is busy, challenging and often heartbreaking. I have met many people and heard many stories. The war has truly taken its toll on the country.
It has certainly been challenging but I will cherish my time here. I am working for an organisation I believe is doing incredibly important work in the humanitarian field, I have made some lifelong friends; and I know that I have put my skills to some use to help the people of South Sudan.
These are the people who struggle everyday to provide safety for themselves and their families. The people trying to feed their families and do not know where their next meal is coming from. The people who have had to leave their homes to live in the bush out of fear for their lives. The injured and sick who have walked for days to reach medical care. The families torn apart by war.
The South Sudanese people I have met, worked with and cared for have blown me away with their resilience, strength and courage. We must not forget about them and because of them, we must hope that this young country can find peace soon.