Dr. Matthew Jones: Gratitude in Words and Images
Dr. Matthew Jones spent nine months serving at St. Theresa Hospital in Nzara, South Sudan. In addition to his clinical duties, Matthew captured photos, stories, and videos to tell the story of St. Theresa Hospital, the staff, and the people it serves. His contributions have provided us all with a better understanding of what life is like for the people working and living there. We are so grateful for his service and his stories.
Here, Matthew shares a special thank you to everyone at CMMB.
I wanted to write this message while the emotion is still fresh and raw and painful, the emotion of leaving behind St. Theresa, Nzara and all her staff and patients. The pain of loss, the pain of feeling you’re leaving people behind in their struggle, the pain of all the faces you might never see again.
But it’s a good pain, a necessary pain, a pain that accompanies love and joy, the necessary price for caring. I certainly don’t have any greater insight into that pain right now than to say that it burns bright and true and deep, a reminder of what it is CMMB, charity and humanity are all about. It is precisely because CMMB has the courage to go to these places, to commit so much to these people and their community, that we feel and share a little of the pain, and we relieve them a little of that pain.
It’s been a privilege to serve these people in the small way I have done. I went to Nzara thinking I might find great truth and meaning, that I might come closer to something resembling a God in my life. I didn’t find that curiously. Nor did I find that selfless voice within me. The great mysteries of life remain; and my weaknesses more exposed and visible. But I found a beauty in the humble humanity, a joy in the every day, a resilience in the people that felt timeless and untouchable by even the greatest obstacles to life and love.
I can’t imagine a life without these people this evening; and though I hope that they will remain present in my heart, I fear that such a sentiment cannot possibly be a consolation to them in the challenges and dark hours they will continue to face.
I want to thank you all for the support, the trust, the opportunity, and the belief placed in every one of us volunteers. In the many tough moments over the long months when it has felt a little hopeless confronted by recurrent, seemingly preventable suffering, that belief and trust has helped and will continue to help us to overcome the personal doubts and insecurities, to place the comfort and well-being of others on a par with our own smaller concerns, to never give up on a single moment or life any more than humanity should give up on a community on the edge like Nzara.
I hope this isn’t the end of my time with CMMB and with St. Theresa. It doesn’t feel like the end somehow. The faces seem too real in my mind, the voices, the hopes, the dreams, the tears. But however this ends, I am forever grateful for the chance to spend nine months in Nzara. I have every day, caring for these children on your behalf, felt like a guardian and trustee of your values, of our values; standing on your shoulders and reaching a little closer to the sky. Holding their hands in their hour of need, the most vulnerable, forgotten, wretched people on Earth we are told. But whatever poverty I have seen has been outshone by the riches of their community, the light in their hearts, and the courage in their souls.
All my love,
Matthew, thank you for your service, thank you for your passion, and thank you for your stories. We look forward to seeing what’s next.