Two Months in Nzara, South Sudan: Reflections from a CMMB Volunteer
Brooke French is a nurse practitioner serving with CMMB in Nzara South Sudan. After two months in the field, she continues to document her journey for friends, family, and future volunteers. Her words below offer a look inside her second month at St. Therese Hospital.
I have been volunteering for two months at St. Theresa Hospital in Nzara, South Sudan. Reflecting on my experience so far, the themes that stand out have been learning, listening, and implementing. I’ve spent my time at the hospital rounding on inpatients in the medical and pediatric ward with one of the doctors.
I am always trying to listen carefully to what is said. There are different languages spoken, but Pazande is probably the most common. I also hear Arabic at times. The doctor I make my rounds with is Congolese, and I have seen him speak to mothers in his local language. There are a few people who I have had speak English, and I am always grateful.
Documentation is done in English, which is helpful. I listen for everything: Symptoms that I hear repeated, the interpretation of what is said, and the plan of care based on resources available.
Learning continues to be a theme, and it will probably continue when I return home. I am getting more comfortable with accepting how things are done and find that I don’t have to question as much. I can usually find the answer in one of the book references at the hospital. I have even had a few opportunities to explain how I’ve handled a particular case in the past, providing a learning opportunity for someone I’m working with.
I am starting to implement some of what I have learned and have begun rounding some pediatric patients on my own. Interpretation usually falls on the nurse assigned to rounds, in addition to all their other responsibilities.
I am getting more familiar with doses of frequently prescribed medicines and have been able to advise on care for complicated patients. Notably, I am seeing patients with ailments that I have only read about in books. I learn something new every day. I hope to continue becoming more comfortable rounding on my own over time.
Despite the differences in delivery of care in remote places like Nzara, there are similarities—especially when it comes to witnessing a parent’s love for their child. I have seen parents, all over the world, do whatever it takes to help their children feel better. The parents I’ve met at St. Therese Hospital are no different.
As I continue serving, I hope to listen, learn, and implement more in the months that follow.