Faith, Hope, Love… and Gumption

The JTH guys pick us up everyday at 8.30 am and give us a lift into work. Today an ambulance gave us a lift.

They say that “Success never teaches you anything.” How very wise those people are. What they don’t tell you is how frustrating failure can feel. Very little was achieved this week.

We are now eight weeks into our Juba trip and I had my birthday this Friday. On this day we were due to hold our first mortality meeting for Medicine. Out of a department of 15 where I might expect to see twelve doctors attending teaching, only five came. There were supposed to be four doctors presenting and only one of these arrived.

The seniors have held many difficult meetings this week about junior doctors not attending work, arriving late, and not attending teaching. The usual problems were discussed which includes:

  • No equipment
  • No medicines
  • No postgraduate training
  • Poor salaries

This, combined with a melting pot of other factors (the subject of future blogs), creates a sinister shadow that clouds the attitudes and behaviours of the medical profession. Its malignant stench permeates its way through every orifice and structure in the hospital. It is the evil that never sleeps. It opens its mouth with four words, always in response to a new idea: “The problem here is….”

Its name is apathy.

There is a war that wages in our hearts, our minds, and the organisations- be it the NHS or Juba Teaching Hospital- that we work in. It is the war on apathy. Bad things do not happen in this world because of bad people. Bad things happen because good people do nothing to stop them.

However apathy is a syndrome that has arisen because of an underlying disease process. Understand the disease and you win the war on apathy. And good always triumphs over evil- that fact is written and rewritten throughout history; humanity and love is our l’Arc de Triumph.

A nurse brought her baby to work and whilst sitting the exam that they have every Friday, she gave it to Clare to look after. African babies are beautiful and this one enjoyed many a cheek fondle from myself. She is the reason why we must fight against apathy

The good thing about apathy is that you need only a few people whose hearts are full of faith, hope, love and gumption to quench its fire. Juba Teaching Hospital is blessed with many. My heart tells me that in the coming weeks these people will fight the underlying problems that give rise to apathy. Once this happens they will carve JTH a new history. One that the hospital and the people of South Sudan may be proud of.

Gumption: some have it. Others don't. The pedals on the rear bike worked fine so I am not sure of the purpose of the rope... especially on a busy road in rush hour

This week wasn’t all full of doom and gloom. This Friday, I got to speak to the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Health and submitted a quotation for a a High Care Unit in the Emergency Medical Ward. He pledged to offer his full support. This bid includes four oxygen concentrators that will deliver a permanent supply of oxygen- not three hours- to our sickest patients. This will be a big win in the struggle against apathy. Until there is a power-cut.

I thought I would leave you with this rather amusing photo of my wonderful wife who to my eyes looks lovely even when it is raining and she is in her waterproofs:

What a beauty

All the best. D xxx

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3 Responses to Faith, Hope, Love… and Gumption

  1. Mrs frances Smith says:

    Rosemary finally forwarded your blog details.great to read a bit about your work.Did you ever bump in to Andrew Persson who has been working for the last 40 years in South Sudan and based in Juba, for the Whytcliffe(spelt wrong!) Bible translators. He preached at our church 3 weeks ago and was flying off the following Tuesday to finish delivering a course before retiring. I was telling him about you and he made a comment about the hospital definitely needing you! Keep at it!!
    Love to you both.

  2. Hello,

    Just saw your message. Thank you! We didn’t bump into him but it sounds like it would have been good to meet him and get some more insight into life in Juba during the war. Thanks for your support. Lots of love to the whole Smith clan!

    Clare and Dave xxx

  3. Don Attwood says:

    Hi David & Clare.
    Glad to see Clare’s dress sense is improving and cheer up you two, don’t let negativity get the better of you.
    You two are really making a difference in the hearts and minds of the people and encouraging them with what little they have to help themselves bring about change for the better.
    Be positive and look on the bright side as looking at Clare, at least you can cross off running water from you list of priories.

    Keep up the good work and love to you both

    Don Attwood

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