Help Us Finish Building a New Medical Clinic to Relieve Healthcare Crisis in Ave Maria Parish
For the population of the Ave Maria parish in South Sudan, even basic medical care is a luxury. A prescription medicine from a local pharmacy is a nonexistent concept. A cut normally just requiring a few stitches can turn into a life-threatening infection.
Complications in pregnancy or childbirth can be deadly for mother and child. One mosquito bite can lead to a fatal onset of malaria without preventive medicine. And if you are unfortunate enough to sustain an injury requiring urgent intervention, you may not survive the journey to the nearest hospital that can take many hours to reach.
In developed nations we are so fortunate to have this infrastructure available to us. In South Sudan, the vast majority do not. Father Avelino Bassols originally came to Ave Maria parish in 2018 to breathe life back into the abandoned church. He is part of an order of men and women who leave everything behind to serve the needs of people in some of the most challenging parts of the world. When he arrived, he discovered a tiny facility built in the 1950’s that had served as the lone outpost for medical treatment. Although it was mostly destroyed in warring conflict during 2019, he attempted to set up an interim one-room ER in it for his parish, where a single nurse began to treat up to 50-70 people every day.
But lacking proper equipment, medicines, or surgical capabilities in this one-room building, they can’t provide the help many patients need. Time and again, Father Avelino has had to witness the tragedy of people left untreated or dying from their illness or injury, because the medical care they needed is not available here. But as construction draws nearer to completion on a brand new health clinic made possible by supporters of the Sudan Relief Fund, help may finally be in the future for the Ave Maria parish.
“This project is so important,” stressed Father Avelino, “because there is no other facility offering essential medical services in the entire area. It must be understood that within rural South Sudan, a country that has been devastated by guerilla warfare, the population is in extreme difficulty and there is practically no health infrastructure here at all.” He referred to the condition as a “healthcare crisis” for the people he serves.
Currently the only facility equipped to provide major medical care is the St. Therese hospital, located over 9 hours away by vehicle in Nzara, also supported by the Sudan Relief Fund. To make this difficult situation even worse, transportation can be nearly impossible to come by, and many medical emergencies simply cannot wait for hours. But these tragedies can soon be prevented with hope of the new clinic on the horizon.
While tremendous progress has made been toward building the facility, additional resources are crucial to completing the construction portion, and stocking the clinic with equipment and medical supplies essential for it to function.
The new facility will be equipped with a testing lab, a medicine dispensary, as well as operating rooms and an emergency room, to provide medical services previously unattainable for the people of Ave Maria parish. With your help, we can open the doors to serve an astounding population of 30,000 men, women, and children who are in desperate need of health care.
With most of the structure completed, the facility remains in need of latrines and a septic tank, plaster for the walls, lab equipment, stocks of medicines, and a security fence around the perimeter. An additional nurse and surgeon will also come onboard to serve the community.
The completed medical center will also be equipped with a much needed Eye Clinic, providing a service entirely absent until now. Recently a temporary eye clinic was conducted on the grounds by two visiting physicians, in which 178 patients were treated and 52 successful operations were performed.
Imagine how routine it is for us to get glasses, reading glasses, or contact lenses when we need to, and how accessibly we can receive eye surgery for cataracts or other eye troubles. There was such an overwhelming demand for eyecare here, the same two physicians committed to return annually, to help provide the people with this desperately needed service.
One man had been blind for the past eight years after his hunting gun accidentally exploded in his face. He had last seen his son when his boy was six years old. Following a successful surgery at the temporary eye clinic, he saw his son for the first time in years. Observers report the patient was literally jumping for joy at the ability to see his son again, who is now fourteen.
Another man brought in his wife who had become completely blind. He had been caring for her ever since and was extremely devoted. He was reluctant to leave her side even during the surgery. When his wife opened her eyes after the bandages were removed, she said “I can see my husband.” It was a moving moment for everyone involved.
Your gifts toward this medical clinic are impacting lives, making people well, and helping the blind to see. Yet urgent need continues, and the healthcare crisis remains for the people of Ave Maria parish until the clinic is operational.
Please continue to support this lifesaving work for those not fortunate enough to have help available to them. Medical treatment and life-changing healthcare is so close to becoming a reality for the people of Ave Maria parish. Will you help to make it happen?
Neil A. Corkery, President
Sudan Relief Fund
P.S. Please help us to finish construction of the Ave Maria Health Clinic. Your support will help provide essential construction materials as well as vital medicines, equipment, staffing, and supplies, to make the clinic operational for thousands of men, women, and children in need.