This year we had a bigger outbreak of meningitis.
Biachirike hobbled into the hut unable to move her head. She was the oldest
person to be stricken and had walked four days from her home to the displaced
camp because of the war in Southern Sudan. She failed to get vaccine because she
was building her house. I took her to the mud and grass "hospital" and asked the
medical assistant to do her spinal tap. A bit of confusion ensued as she, a
member of the Latuho Ethnic Group, asked what this Dinka man was going to do to
her. The Dinka nurse told her, "Mama, we are all your children and couldn’t hurt
you." She acquiesced and the procedure confirmed she had meningitis.
After two weeks of treatment she could easily nod her head
that she was ready to go home. I reminded her of her question to "that Dinka
man" and pointed out that he had saved her life. One of the nurses added, "This
hospital is like a church. When someone comes here we don’t notice their tribe;
only that they are sick." She shook my hand and headed for the door. Three Dinka
women called out to her, begging her to say goodbye to them, too. As she shook
each person’s hand I hoped they would remember" they are sisters and brothers
the next time they meet. Otherwise, this war will never end.