Project Stories:

Prison mission in Sudan

Field report of humedica doctor Ruth Weber

by Ruth Weber,  2018/11/22

An unknown packing list is lying in front of me. I am considering whether I am well equipped, if I have thought of everything, which could be useful. Then a word catches my attention: "disposable underpants". Written on the packing list besides the conventional underpants, divided by a forward slash, but used like a synonym. Never before I have heard of disposable underwear, let alone thought about it. My internet research shows affordable prices, which boosts my interest to try them out. Bought, packed, departed.

Stopping over in Istanbul our humedica intervention team is scheduled to meet for the first time. I already know one of the team members: I have met Maria Britzger during the humedica intervention team training in 2013, now the prison intervention in the Sudan will be our first field operation together. As our joint accommodation in the team house has already welded us together, I expect that a gynecologist and a urologist will get along well together.

humedica-Team beim Gefängniseinsatz 2018 im Sudan

Our Sudan team 2018, here in front of the Red Sea. In the front: Alicia Lamlé, Niamat Yassa (Mama Niamat) from Prison Fellowship International Sudan, Annerose Blessing, Marietta Strümpfler, Dr. Ruth Weber. In the background: Dr. Claudia Künneth-Schmutz, Stefanie Heckenberger, Dr. Johannes Höß, Maria Britzger, Jacqueline Colin. Photo: humedica/Alicia Lamlé

Arrival in the Sudan

The Sudan is quite different from the other countries, I have visited till date. It is Arabian and African at the same time, the state with the highest number of internally displaced persons in the world.

Niamat Yassa, better known as "Mama Niamat", welcomes us extremely politely, highly officially and effusively hospitably in the name of our local partner Prison Fellowship International Sudan. We are allowed to work in seven selected prisons, continually accompanied by members of the parliament and running smartphone video cameras. We meet and treat not only inmates, but also guards and their families.

Mitarbeiter von humedica gemeinsam mit Mitarbeitern eines Einsatzgefängnisses im Sudan

humedica team members of the prison intervention in the Sudan (from the left to the right): Dr. Claudia Künneth-Schmutz, Dr. Johannes Höß, Dr. Ruth Weber, Jacqueline Colin, Alicia Lamlé, Stefanie Heckenberger, Marietta Strümpfler, Annerose Blessing and Maria Britzger together with the director of the Al Huda Prison in Khartoum (in the middle), his employees, members of the Christian prison church as well as Mama Niamat. Photo: humedica/Alicia Lamlé

Even so I am constantly aware that each of my actions may have consequences for me, my supporters or my potential patients, both sides do not allow room for any fear of contact: we are here to help. As long it is medically necessary and we have the consent of the patient, we can carry out important urological and gynecological examinations, even in a Muslim country.

Although we have the impression that the patients have been selected in advance for us, we see horrible and rare diseases. I am also impressed by some imaginative dressing techniques. Our equipment, our drugs imported as well as organized on site, are able to reduce pain or to stem infections. The simple fact that we care and have a look at where it hurts is helping already. The quite regular humedica medical interventions in the Sudan have yet significantly improved the situation in the prisons. In part there is access to hygiene measures or medical treatment.

humedica-Einsatzkraft Alicia Lamle bei einer Behandlung im Sudan

humedica medical team members regularly visit prisons in Africa, like Alicia Lamlé, here seen absorbed in a medical examination in the Sudan. Photo: humedica/Ruth Weber

I become once more aware of the fact, how multifaceted our work is, how character building. And above all: how helpful! At first glance it may be the proverbial drop in the ocean, but for each patient it means so much more. The fact that he/she feels seen, appreciated and treated with respect in such lost surroundings means the world here. Therefore it is worth the effort. Each time.

humedica-Ärztin Ruth Weber bei einer Behandlung im Sudan

humedica doctor Dr. Ruth Weber examining a patient in the Sudan. Photo: humedica/Ruth Weber

Many of us have experienced this feeling quite intensively already before this Sudan intervention. The stories told by our experienced and well-travelled team members enrich us all. Our team leader Dr. Johannes Höß tells us about meeting a young man in a prison, whose only piece of clothing was a T-shirt. Johannes gave him all he could take off and spare as a present, even his underpants. This and other stories make it clear to me that all my intervention team members are empathetic people, ready and motivated to do good deeds. And that we function well as a team and that we would give literally our last shirt for each other. To be on the safe side I hand over to Johannes freshly folded, new disposable underpants. You never know where life is taking you tomorrow…

I would like to thank both Prison Fellowship International Sudan and humedica, despite of, or even for the small stumbling blocks, for the unique opportunity to help people and for a humanly and medically meaningful intervention.

Are you interested to support a humedica intervention abroad? Please read here more about our humedica training or our planned overseas relief interventions. We are looking forward to hearing from you!
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