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South Sudan Medical Clinic

South Sudan Medical Clinic

The money raised from the annual benefit concert entitled, Music for Medicine and Hope for Health, which was on Saturday, March 3, 2012 to help the people of South Sudan will go towards more medical supplies and equipment in this war ravaged region and to address some of the dire humanitarian needs.It was sponsored by Glen Ellyn’s St. Barnabas Episcopal Church.

Peace seems to have hidden her face once more in South Sudan, a country that was created just in the past year. The news is filled with stories of suffering and needless killings of women and children. This has prompted thousands of refugees in Renk, South Sudan, which at the moment is one of the few peaceful places in the country.

With funds raised by an annual benefit concert, St. Barnabas for the past several years has provided medications, contributed to the salary of the midwife, purchased a microscope for their laboratory and furniture for the clinic. The hope is that the clinic will some day become independent. We can help these forgotten Christians and people of all faiths receive care and treatment.

Imagine that you are an average person living in South Sudan today. Your lifestyle would be very different to that of the average person in DuPage County. Differences such as:
•Most of southern Sudan is out of the reach of medical care. On a typical day at the Renk Medical Clinic, Dr. Paul sees 150 patients. A typical Glen Ellyn doctor sees 20 to 40. And only 10% of kids are fully vaccinated.
•Less than half the population of south Sudan has access to clean drinking water.
•Half the population lives on less than $1 a day.
•Kids in the Sudan make their own toys. Children in Renk enjoy soccer and jumping rope. Often they fill plastic bags with rags to make soccer balls.
•Less than half of the kids in south Sudan receive even five years of grade school. Literacy rates are less than 15%.

In 2001, when St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Glen Ellyn began its relationship with St. Barnaba in Renk, Sudan, Sudan was embroiled in a bitter civil war that had been going on for some time. Renk is a small village on the White Nile, near the centre of Sudan, and it sits on the main north-south road used by people traveling to and from the mostly Islamic north and the mostly Christian south of the country. Thousands of people were moving from south to north and north to south passed returning home or seeking a fresh start. At any given time, as many as 20,000 displaced persons were in Renk.

Many of those people were in need of medical help. The Renk Diocese Clinic, operated by the Diocese of Renk of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, offered that help. In 2006 the clinic consisted of a two-room cinder-block structure with a dirt floor—housing a waiting room and an exam room/office—and two one-room mud-and-stuck structures also with dirt floors.

The clinic is headed by Paul Deng Kuol who was trained as a medical technician but functions as a doctor. He is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Preventable and treatable diseases such as malaria and typhoid are some of Dr. Paul’s most common cases. The infant and maternal mortality rates are among the highest in the world, as most births are not attended by medical personnel and there is a lack of prenatal care. Getting enough medication is a great challenge because of the scarcity of medical clinics and medical infrastructure. The clinic often runs out of supplies, and the constant stream of new refugees adds to the challenge to meet everyone’s needs.

Fundraising concerts—Hope for the Sudan Benefit Concerts—sponsored by St. Barnabas each year since 2006, in association with the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, have changed things for the people of the Sudan in the following ways:

•Purchase of seed and farming tools for the people of Maban
•Establishment of a brick-making project to help the parish of St. Barnaba
•Purchase of a grain mill
•Purchase of utensils for a start-up restaurant in Renk
•Digging of a well in Maban where clean water is a desperate issue
•Purchase of land near Renk and sorghum seeds
•Micro-business projects for women
•A one-time grant for extra staffing at the medical clinic to serve the thousands who pass through Renk

Sudan is a country of just under one million square miles (about a quarter the size of the U.S.), with a population of 12 million people. Since its independence from Britain in 1956 it has been torn by civil war between north and south. It is one of the most diverse countries in Africa, home to deserts, mountain ranges, swamps and rain forests. With a portion of its northeastern border being the Red Sea, the Sudan borders Egypt to the north, Congo, Uganda and Kenya to the south, Ethiopia to the east, and Chad and Libya to the west. Darfur, the center of the current news stories, is in the western portion. Over the years, Christian churches have worked ecumenically throughout the Sudan to provide worship, education, and health care, to help with agricultural programs, and to address issues of peace and justice.

In January, 2011, a referendum was held and the southern part of Sudan—where the oil is—voted to secede from northern Sudan and become a separate country called South Sudan. An agreement between north Sudan and the new country of South Sudan was that 50% of oil revenues would go to northern Sudan. Nevertheless, much turmoil and fighting continues to wreak havoc.

For more information on how you can help the people of South Sudan, or donate to the medical clinic in Renk, please contact St. Barnabas Episcopal Church (22W415 Butterfield Road, Glen Ellyn) at 630 469-1394, email: or go to our website

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