The hope of a new life: One mother’s story of strength and survival

Her skin is soft and still a bit wrinkled. Just a couple of hours old, she is wrapped in a bright red blanket and sleeping peacefully. Her name is Madina.

Her mother and grandmother are sitting alongside her, smiling proudly and every few seconds peeking at the little bundle that lies between them. Zenab, Madina’s mother, came to the Medair delivery clinic in Yusuf Batil refugee camp in South Sudan during the night. She looks fragile. Yet she is already walking around, washing her feet outside, cracking jokes and radiating joy, even after giving birth to Madina a few short hours ago.

Zenab’s energy surprises me. I remember the words of my colleague: “The women here are very strong. The same day that they give birth, they start walking around, working, and even doing the cooking. But it’s not only because they are strong. It’s also because they don’t have a choice.”

Living in Yusuf Batil camp, a refugee camp hosting 40,000 refugees in war-torn South Sudan, comes with many challenges. People like Zenab and her five children fled the violence and bombings in Blue Nile State in Sudan. After a long and harrowing journey, having no access to food and health care, and only murky water from puddles on the side of the road to drink, they arrived in the refugee camp tired and hungry.

Although now safe from the violence in their home country, life remains tough. There is not enough food, huts are generally made of wooden poles, mud, and tarpaulins, and the refugees are almost entirely reliant on the help of humanitarian organisations. Nights in the camp are notorious for crimes and insecurity – especially for women.

Yet this is where Medair teams are working hard to save the lives of women like Zenab by providing a place to give birth safely. 

I delivered my other children at home. This is my first time delivering a baby in the clinic,