Ecountering the Lord in my Work with the Sick

My Name is Bro. Paolo Rizzetto. I am currently working in Mary Immaculate Hospital in Mapuordit. The hospital belongs the Diocese of Rumbek but managed by the Comboni Missionaries. It is located in Lakes State (South Sudan).

I have been a Comboni Missionary since 2007 and I have been given the chance to live, study and work in three different African countries: Uganda, Kenya and South Sudan. I am a Medical Officer and in the last four years I have been entrusted with the responsibility of being the Medical Director and Acting Administrator of Mary Immaculate Hospital.

In my work I share the joy and struggles of many people. First of all, the struggles of our medical staff who cooperate in this great mission of being close to the people at their most vulnerable times: the people who are sick, who are fighting for their life or are about to bring a new life into the world. These are the people we are called to serve in Mary Immaculate Hospital. I certainly could not do this alone. The staff working with me are a great example of dedication and service.

I would like to share with you the story of one of them. Robina is not the oldest staff in Mary Immaculate but since she came, in August 2018, she has touched my heart, striking me, as a witness of the Gospel, testifying to Love. I wish you all that her story may give you as much as I have received.

My name is Atemo Robina and I am from Kitgum (Uganda). I am a midwife working in maternity ward at Mary Immaculate Hospital Diocese of Rumbek, with three years’ experience as a midwife. The face or presence of God in our daily work is the true definition of the phrase: “we treat and God heals”.

Surely, it is not easy for a mother to face pregnancy and delivery because of the vast number of complications before, during and after childbirth. As midwife, handling mothers who are already experiencing excruciating pains. I make sure I give my best together with the team to ensure we are welcoming, gentle enough, empathic, timely and up to date. A smile is also important together with a deep trust on the Lord who can offer healing.

The weekly programs for outreach antenatal care services in the nearby villages are demanding. We visit the cattle camps, through risky and unsafe roads combined with poor and negative attitudes of the community towards hospital deliveries. But God is faithful and protects us.

A clear example of God’s assistance is the case of a lady who came to the hospital with a serious post-partum complication. She had a serious haemorrhage but all relatives declined to donate blood to her. God saw us through and the mother and baby are alive today.

We appreciate God for the Anti-Retroviral Treatment and care for HIV patients especially the pregnant mothers under Preveton form Mother To Child Transmission (PMTCT). Even though most of the community members don’t comply with the medication, thus increasing the chance of new born infection and also of spreading the infection to the staff during delivery, God protects us year by year and also gives precious sero-negative results to most of the new born babies.

The routine health talks at the ward, together with the fellow staff has helped us reduce the rate of sepsis by improving the hygiene and care of the umbilical cord stump, for the new born. This always brings much complication which need more intervention and most of the times, positive results are achieved for the Glory of God’s name. A clear and lively example is a lady, with twin pregnancy, who came in as a referral from Primary Health Care Centre after 15 hours of labour and foetal distress. She was assessed and diagnosed with obstructed labour, with giant genital warts known for being HIV positive. An emergency caesarean section was done by the operation theatre team. I received the babies with very poor vital score for the first twin and the second was unfortunately already a still birth. I led the team and we managed to resuscitate the baby with prolonged manual ventilation, suction, stimulation and oxygen therapy for over 2hours, praying to God for a positive result, which surely came as a testimony for all of us and for the family.

I conclude with one verse quotation from Psalm 127;1: “Unless the Lord builds a house the labourers do it in vain, unless He builds a house the builders do it in vain.” So I encourage all the staff to put God before anything we do because He is, all in all, the alpha and omega.

Together with Robina we have 12 expatriate support staff, all employed in the key senior positions. These include the Surgeon, Dr Derek Bumba, from Kibuku who is responsible for 2 departments: maternity and surgical Ward and he is the first on call for any surgical or obstetric emergencies. The Senior Nursing Officer (Ugandan Registered Nurse), Keziah Amutos, from Soroti, has been with us for long: her job is to coordinate the activities of all nursing staff. Her deputy is also the Staff Development Officer, a Registered Nurse & Midwife; he is called Victor Adyaka, from Abim. A part form nursing and midwifery calls he is engaged in tutoring the young South Sudanese people, interested to become nurses. We can count on a Senior Clinical Officer & ART supervisor, MCO Elijah Somoka, from Budaka who coordinates the activities revolving around HIV care. There is one Registered Midwife, Betty Grace Tino, from Lira who works in antenatal care; a Pharmacist, Pius Odongo, from Luzira; and an Electrician, Joseph Opwonya, from Gulu. Recently we employed 2 nurse anaesthetists: Odongo David Livingston, from Oyam, with a very long experience (43 years) in the profession and Patrick Byarugaba, from Kiryandongo. They both assist the surgeon during the operations and help the other doctors when their expertise is needed.