THE HOPES

Before the lunch break on the third day of the workshop, Agnes gathers everyone. As part of her strategy to spread the message about infection prevention and proper hand hygiene to healthcare workers in South Sudan, she has devised an energetic song for everyone to perform, and a video that would eventually be part of a public service campaign. Social media is slowly arriving South Sudan, but in a positive way. It’s the women who take center stage. Their energy and strength is, well, infectious.

It’s afternoon. The AC is working again. The midwives, nurses and other healthcare workers discuss the takeaways from the workshop.

“One of the biggest challenges is people stealing the soaps,” joked Mary, a midwife worker from a small village in Wau.

“…but if nothing, I know about washing. Washing, and washing again. Before I touch a patient. I wash. After I greet someone. I wash. Before I touch equipment, I wash.”

She continued. Mary travelled for over 4 days via bus to get here for IPAC. “When she said where she was from, and how she got here, the entire group erupted into applause,” said Bonser. “I’m guessing it was quite the trek.”

When the topic comes to hope, a huge smile breaks across Agnes’ face.

“My big dreams for the next couple of years are that things are going to change — because we have already seen great changes happening. Our country is still young. There are a lot of things that need to be done at once. Health is a priority, everything is a priority … in my position, I am able to see clearly what are the priorities. Because if I start with the third thing, it may not help us. We have to start with the priority of the closely hanging fruits.”

“Workshops like these are very important” explained Ladius. “… Health professionals have to provide the same learned knowledge to (members of our teams) and our ability to influence management to install necessary infrastructure to manage infection control …”

Later in the day, everyone is suddenly quiet. It is the last day. As with every day, this one ends with a prayer. And a song. The prayer asks for safe journeys for everyone, as there are often dangers in the most simple activities.

Before leaving, Ladius offered,

“If I have the chance to attend several trainings like this and would have the ability to meet different people, with different ideas of how to influence others … Influencing somebody … will bring a big change … and that’s what we hope for, actually.”

Education and sharing of information feeds the mind, and music feeds the soul. There is music in Juba. And there is hope. It’s with the people. The kindness. The warmth. Yes, there is violence, and poverty. And a great deal of sadness. But hope is under re‑construction. It’s in the streets. It’s in the voices. It’s in the songs. It’s infectious. The one kind of infection you don’t want to prevent.

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