Waiting for Doro

In response to Covid-19, SIM evacuated many of its overseas workers from the Doro Clinic in South Sudan. The borders of South Sudan and Kenya have just re-opened, but for Erica Aarsen, a nurse from Dunedin who is waiting to take up a long-term position in Doro, it’s not that easy.  It may still be the end of the year before she can get there. 

Erica was to have done a tropical medicine course in the UK in April before heading there. The next possible opportunity to do this study is in November, but as all of her funding support is in place she could still be in Doro by the end of the year – all going well.

When asked about the delay in getting there her response was: “Having my plans put on hold to go to South Sudan is fine. It is a good reminder that although we make plans, God is the one who determines our steps, and it is not always for us to know why things happen the way they do! I will be glad when the time comes and I am able to go, but happy to be here in the meanwhile.”

Erica keeps in touch with the Doro and the team via email and WhatsApp, and reports: “It is currently just heading into the rainy season in South Sudan, which means thick, humid heat and frequent rainstorms. This season can be especially challenging because of the increase in malaria cases, due to there being more mosquitos. Also land access to the clinic becomes more difficult because of an abundance of mud! Locusts remain a threat to many people across East Africa; a lot of these people rely on the food that they grow to feed themselves as they are not able to travel to towns and cities to buy other things if their crops fail.”

Over the last few months Erica has been busy in the Dunedin Emergency Department, where she has received training in the care of patients with Covid-19. She understands that some people might have concerns for her safety if she ends up treating Covid-19 patients in South Sudan, but doesn’t believe that these concerns should prevent her going – “Yes we should be wise in taking this seriously, but also remember the example set by Jesus and the commands he left us to care for the sick, the leper, the poor”. She will go with the support of her family – “I come from a family of believers in Jesus and what He has done for us. I think it is always hard to see a relative go and live in a far-away place, but knowing that family members are held in the palm of God’s hand is a great reassurance.”

Erica’s comments echo those of David Shearer, the Head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan. In a recent RNZ interview he expressed concern that Covid-19 might interfere with treatment of TB, malaria and diarrhoea in children, which could potentially kill many more. At the same time he indicated that the UN was having great difficulty sourcing PPE, which is a particular worry because Covid-19 has been detected in two large refugee camps (one of them served by the Doro Clinic).

— Geoff McGowan


• Praise God for his wonderful provision of financial support for Erica’s ministry in Doro.

• Please pray for Erica, the Doro team (those in Kenya and those remaining in Doro) and the people of South Sudan.