Hope is Here to Stay

July 23, 2014 • South Sudan
A choir greeted guests with songs of welcome and joy before the dedication of our new hospital wing in South Sudan.

Samaritan's Purse dedicates the new hospital facility in South Sudan.

Shanna McClarnon is Samaritan’s Purse Information Officer in South Sudan

The new facilities at our hospital in Maban will allow for Samaritan's Purse to serve more people medically in Jesus' Name.

The new facilities at our hospital in Maban will allow for Samaritan’s Purse to serve more people medically in Jesus’ Name.

After an hour and a half plane ride from South Sudan’s capital city of Juba, we were quickly on the ground to celebrate the completion of the Maban County Hospital expansion. As the plane carrying a diverse group of passengers flew over South Sudan’s lush green countryside, excitement began to build with everyone eager to see the finished facility and meet those who worked tirelessly on the project. It held passengers like US Ambassador Susan Page, Assistant Secretary General Anne Richard, media personnel, and representatives from the Ministry of Health, UNHCR, and Samaritan’s Purse.

Once on the ground, a convoy of nearly a dozen vehicles traveled along the dusty road to the new facility built by Samaritan’s Purse. Singing voices could be heard in the distance as we neared our destination. Pulling through the hospital gate, we were greeted by a local choir led by Samaritan’s Purse Ministry Coordinator Pastor Andrew singing songs of welcome. Next to them stood the hospital team in perfect formation, dressed in pressed, clean scrubs.

My eyes welled up with tears, thinking it should be me standing at attention and honoring them – the community, the hospital staff, the refugees – for their strength, their perseverance, and their sacrifice that made this day possible.

The guided tour of the hospital followed with the ever-joyous Dr. Atar leading the US delegation and hundreds of other guests throughout the new facility.

Dr. Atar cannot contain his joy as he gives a tour of the new facilities.

Dr. Atar cannot contain his joy as he gives a tour of the new facilities.

The smile on his face was worth more than a thousand words. It was obvious he was well aware that this new facility would enable him to treat more patients and heal more wounds.

The tour came to an end and the large group was led to a shaded structure where the official inauguration would be held. The area was overflowing with special guests, government officials, community members, and refugees. So many gathered in attendance to show their thankfulness for this incredible facility that offers life-saving services at no charge to the more than 100,000 refugees and host community members in the area.

The guest of honor, US Assistant Secretary of State Anne Richard, offered encouraging words to the multitude in attendance. But before she gave her speech, the local women dressed her in traditional attire and jewelry as a symbol of gratitude from the community. Draped in a long white gown and brightly beaded jewelry around her neck and arms, Richard encouraged the audience.

“This new hospital cannot prevent conflicts from maiming and killing,” she said. “But because it is here, more wounds will be healed.”

Special guests including like US Ambassador Susan Page and Assistant Secretary General Anne Richard attend hospital dedication ceremony.

Special guests including, US Ambassador Susan Page and Assistant Secretary General Anne Richard, attend hospital dedication ceremony.

The people of Maban know that because of the commitment of Samaritan’s Purse they have a safe place to go when they are sick, hurting and in need of assistance.

“This hospital is important for what it represents,” Anne said. “It says ‘You will not be forgotten.’”

The Maban County Hospital is evidence that Samaritan’s Purse will not forget the refugees and community of Maban.

The celebration of the Maban County Hospital was a special day indeed. But the most incredible thing wasn’t the speeches, the guests, the songs, or the dances. It was the feeling of hope. There was no doubt that hope was near and He will continue to be, because “He never leaves us nor forsakes us…”

The Maban County Hospital is just that– a reminder of God’s love, healing, and how hope is here to stay.