Chapter VII: Memory



Nurse Nyabaled Anyong, 55, remembers back to a time before the war:

"Before the war, all the nurses went to training courses. We went to Juba, the capital. We were from different tribes: Nuer, Dinka... ” she recalls. “Before, we worked side by side  as sisters and brothers. But when the war started, some were killed and others escaped."

Nyabaled was a nurse at the University Hospital in Malakal, the largest hospital in Upper Nile state, managed by the Ministry of Health with the support of MSF. In February 2014, two months into the conflict, the hospital was looted and destroyed by armed groups. Several patients were killed in their beds.

"Then they told us they would kill us, the doctors and nurses, so we left.”


Malakal Hospital was attacked and destroyed in February 2014. | ANNA SURINYACH


Malakal, until then a city full of the hustle and bustle of daily life, became a ghost town of gutted buildings and streets strewn with dead bodies.

Nyabaled ran away from Malakal and crossed the Nile to Wau Shilluk in a small canoe, like thousands of other civilians. That’s where we meet her, two-and-a-half years after the attack on the hospital. Her memory of the event has not dulled, but neither has her desire to care for those affected by the conflict. She still works as a nurse.


Nyabaled Anyong now works in Wau Shilluk for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). | ANNA SURINYACH


"I keep helping. Sometimes patients even knock on my door at night because they need an injection. I also treat wounds," says Nyabaled, sitting on the doorstep of her home, a hut in the dusty village-camp in Wau Shilluk.

Always smiling, Nyabaled explains that for a short time she left Wau Shilluk because she felt that she was also in danger there. But she came back and says that now she’s going to stay, and she won’t leave again. Why?

"I won’t run away any more because people here need me.”