Soon after returning to Gambella, we were informed that there had been more fighting in Nasir. Some of the wounded White Army (rebel army) soldiers had been brought to the Gambella hospital for treatment.
Here, if you go to the hospital, all that is provided in regards to accommodations is a place to lie down. if you’re lucky, you may get a bed with a mattress, but nothing else. Your family is responsible for providing linens, food, and taking care of you---keeping you clean, aiding you in using the facilities, etc.
Since the wounded were not from Gambella, many of them had no family here to take care of them. We soon found out that many of the local churches had banded together to raise money for food, and the women were cooking for the wounded.
Each day, many of our friends would go together to the hospital to visit the men. This was so encouraging to see the local church reaching out to care for those in need.
One of these days, Jared, Laura and I went along with them. When we arrived at the hospital, we were taken through three wards, two of which were previously tuberculosis wards that had been converted to accommodate the wounded. All three wards were packed full of those wounded in the fighting. There was also a surgical ward nearby that was very active.
The rooms were damp, dirty, poorly lit, and there was no privacy. A musty odor filled through the room as a result of the stench of human excrement, soiled linens, and a leaky roof.
Seeing the degree of some of the wounds was a lot to take in: men wincing in pain as they gasped to take their next breath; those with freshly amputated limbs; some were so weak that they could barely move; family and friends sitting by the unconscious, waiting anxiously for the moment when they would awake.
As I looked around, I realized that some of these men were really just boys no older than 15.
Before coming here, I had just heard stories of fighting. Seeing this glimpse of the effects of the war really hit me hard. This fighting is real. People are dying. Families are being torn apart.
My heart is so burdened for the South Sudanese people. Many of them I now consider my family. I pray a lasting peace comes soon.