MSF Nurse Activity Manager for Abyei, Awa Abdumadou shares light moments with two community volunteers during a weekly visit to one of the 17 Integrated Community Case Management (ICCM) sites in Abyei. South Sudan. 2023. © MSF © MSF

South Sudan: The Lady of Abyei

"In our patients' smiles and gratitude, we find our purpose."

Awa Abdou
Nurse Activity Manager MSF

“In the heart of South Sudan, nestled within the confines of Abyei, is where my story begins.

My name is Awa Abdou, but to the locals and the volunteers here, I’m lovingly known as Nyan Abyei, the ‘Abyei Lady’. Though I arrived as an outsider, this community embraced me, making me feel as if I’ve known and been a part of Abyei Special Administrative Area (ASAA) in South Sudan for a lifetime. Now, in their eyes and in my heart, I am every bit an “Abyei girl”.

I wear my title of ‘nurse activity manager with MSF’ with pride. I’ve been entrusted with a significant responsibility: to train the volunteers, to supply vital medication to the community, and to provide oversight to ensure our objectives are being met.

Our operation spans 17 Integrated Community Case Management (ICCM) sites. At each, two dedicated volunteers and a water carrier work tirelessly. Their mission? To diagnose and treat malaria, address cases of diarrhoea, and screen for malnutrition. Equipped with Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDTs), the teams provide immediate care. A positive RDT? They know the protocol. A case of uncomplicated diarrhoea? They’re ready to intervene.

Yet, our mission here isn’t without challenges. The most formidable? The roads. During the rainy season, they’re impassable. Vehicles are of no use; it takes sheer determination and a pair of resilient feet to reach our ICCM sites. But these obstacles pale in comparison to the health needs.

MSF’s presence in Abyei is a beacon of hope for the community. There’s no other health unit, no other place for patients to seek medical care. It is solely our ICCM sites , established with the help of the community, that help prevent and treat diseases. And it’s not just about supplying medicines; MSF funds these volunteers who serve their communities.

MSF teams forge their way through bushy paths, heading to an Intergrated Community Case Management (ICCM) site in Abyei. South Sudan, 2023. © MSF

When it rains, our sites teem with activity. Over one hundred patients gather every Wednesday and Friday. They come in search of medical support, and we stand ready, reporting data, stocking up medicines, and most importantly, providing health care.

The community trusts us, so our reach and impact are enormous. A recent interaction with community leaders highlighted this. They spoke about the positive impact of MSF. Such positive sentiments drive us to continue working. No matter how shaky the roads, no matter how vast the distance to reach patients, it is the joy and relief on the faces of those we serve that fuels our humanitarian work. For in their smiles, in their gratitude, we find our purpose.”

In Abyei, MSF supports secondary healthcare services by at Ameth Bek Hospital, the only secondary healthcare hospital and surgical service in the area. Our teams provide a range of services including inpatient care, around-the-clock emergency care, surgery, comprehensive maternal and neonatal care, treatment for chronic illnesses, mental health support, health promotion, Integrated Community Case Management sites (ICCM), as well as the collaboration with local healthcare authorities.