Bon Secours Mercy Health System has been a major supporter of Solidarity with South Sudan since 2015. Camille Grippon, system director of Global Ministries for Bon Secours Mercy Health, explains that “there are a lot of synergies” with the mission of Solidarity and Bon Secours Global Ministries commitment, which is “to serve those who are vulnerable through sustainable practices that empower local communities.”
The funds provided through Bon Secours Mercy Health Global Ministries support general operations including scholarships for students at Solidarity’s Catholic Health Training Institute (CHTI) in Wau, South Sudan. There is a great need for qualified, well-trained nurses and midwives in the country, and CHTI is helping to fill that need. The program requires three years of academic study and clinical rotations. The cost per student per year is $6,500 USD, which includes tuition, room and board, materials and transportation.
Since 2010, 188 health workers (132 nurses and 56 midwives) have graduated from CHTI. There are 126 students (76 nurses and 50 midwives) enrolled this year. Graduates find work in hospitals where their skills save lives, and their employment in turn supports themselves and their families. “South Sudan has the worst maternal/child health indicators in the world,” said Camille. One safe, healthy birth at a time, CHTI is helping to change this. This is also in sync with Bon Secours Mercy Health’s goal to “improve health globally especially for women and children living in marginalized communities.”
The nurses and midwives who graduate from CHTI also share what they have learned with others. Christo and another CHTI graduate trained 17 community health workers in Yambio, who went on to get government certificates. In Nzara, Christo has also helped train “mentor mothers,” who are able to visit women in their homes. This ripple effect empowers local communities, putting the South Sudanese on the path to sustainability and long-term development.
Bon Secours Health System, founded by the Sisters of Bon Secours, merged with Mercy Health in 2018. From the Bon Secours Mercy Health web site: “Bon Secours Mercy Health’s Catholic health care heritage is directly linked to women religious who, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, began ministries dedicated to serving people who are poor, underserved and dying. It is in furthering their legacies that we embrace our calling to extend Jesus’ healing ministry through compassion and service.”
Photos by Nyokabi Kahura