New-borns bring hope to a refugee camp in South Sudan
Community Reproductive Health Workers, Sandalia Algumus and Nafisa Juma with baby Zenab.

I’ve just returned from South Sudan, where a couple of particularly special events took place at Yusuf Batil refugee camps at which GOAL is working.

It’s a harrowing and difficult place to work, but GOAL is working to make a difference. Two refugee women recently gave birth to healthy new-born babies, with help from the GOAL health team. 

The first woman, Asha had lost five children to complications during birth over the years. With the help of our midwife and the rest of the medical team, she gave birth to a perfectly healthy 3.5kg baby boy, Juma. 

The second woman, also called Asha, was having her first child. She walked to the health post once contractions had started. And although the midwife did not make it to the clinic before the birth, she was ably assisted by trained community health workers and delivered a healthy baby girl, Zenab. 

That may not sound like much in the context of such a big emergency as the South Sudan refugee crisis, but for the team it was a massive step in the right direction. The mortality rate for mothers and new-borns in South Sudan is very high and it’s safe to say they are amongst the worst in the world. 

Women do not tend to seek medical assistance during pregnancy until there are complications in the middle, or even after, labour. Often this is simply too late, resulting in death of the mother or the new-born baby. 

The fact that the two women attended the clinic before any complications arose is exciting for a number of reasons. For one, word is obviously spreading that the services being provided by GOAL are delivering and two; women in the region are becoming more aware that a health clinic is a safer place to give birth. 

The GOAL team had hoped that good news such as this would spread and encourage more community members to visit the clinic and take advantage of the midwife in attendance. This has certainly been the case as I have been informed that an additional three babies have been born since my return to GOAL head office in Dublin! 

The staff in the camp are an amazing bunch of people, who are totally committed to their roles within the camp and I know that they will continue to do what they can for those who need it most. 

- Jane Dunne  
GOAL South Sudan Desk Officer
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