In February 2020, I had an opportunity to travel to Tore with The Rescue Initiative emergency medical mobile team, it was disheartening to see how the conflict has affected the area once with vibrant small markets and towns along the Yei – Maridi highway are no more. Residents along the road have fled deep into the bush or to neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo for safety. What I could see were the roofless walls or the oval tombs indicating that there were people living there before the conflict.
As we drove along, we saw two women and their children who have come out of their new home far away from the main road to check on their farms when we stopped they visibly look frightened since not vehicles longer travel on that road. We asked them where they are staying now they told us we were staying here but because of the insecurity, we have moved 5 miles into the bush, we have come to collect some banana from our farm.
With visibly young children we asked whether they were vaccinated, they told us “No our children were not vaccinated because it is too far to walk to Yei or Tore.” From this point my spirit sunk thinking about the challenge children and their families face without access to health services.
The team said we must go to their village and get the children vaccinated. The following morning, we set off from Yei to Goli packed vaccines and medicines and drove for another 12 miles deep into the village where we found mothers are waiting with children. The team setup their tables and started vaccinating the children including medical consultations and rapid malarial tests for both children and adult. It was such a relief for the mothers to get their children vaccinated in their village.
I spoke to one of the mothers Jackline, a mother of 1.5 years old girl said, “my daughter’s body temperature was so high and vomiting. I was going to take my daughter to Goli primary health care unit which is 12 miles, it is too far but am happy that we have the mobile outreach team here today. They just tested my daughter and found her with malaria and cough and she was vaccinated too.
Since the conflict broke out in our area in 2016, we ran to the bush with no access to health services now we have it near us. We are happy that we have it near us and we hope it continuous.”
Santino 62 years old man said, he had a second chance to life when Rapid Response emergency health services started in his village. “the day this programme started, I was ill I couldn’t walk or eat I was only waiting to die because I cannot walk for 12 miles to get treatment, but I was lucky The Rescue Initiative started this programme and I was brought here for treatment for Tuberculosis now I have recovered but continue to come to receive my medicines. I want to thank them so much and hope this programme continue so that the people who have fled to the bush can return home.
The Rescue Initiative’s provision of emergency health services project in Tore Payam, Yei River County is funded by IOM South Sudan’s Rapid Response Fund.