Friday, July 24, 2009

Where Bullets Are Welcome

Ask any medical worker in Sudan, and s/he will tell you that the most common cause of injuries they deal with are gunshot wounds. Sadly, firearms have replaced fists as the way that men settle arguments; as a result, violence still plagues postwar Southern Sudan.

In Kuron Peace Village, where Catholic Sister Angela Limiyo runs the only health clinic in the region, it is not unusual for several gunshot victims to arrive each day. Angela herself was shot several months ago when the large truck she was riding in was randomly ambushed by bandits on the road near Narus. She had to be transported to Nairobi, Kenya, for treatment and skin grafts, and subsequently spent 3 months recuperating there before returning to her post in Sudan.

Every male in Sudan, it seems, carries a Kalashnikov (AK-47) rifle. Relics from the long civil war, these weapons are likely to be held together with twine or missing a handle, but still lethal. Guns are so commonplace that bullets have become a kind of local currency in the area: patients at the clinic pay Sister Angela with live bullets for their treatment. She gladly accepts ammunition in lieu of cash, figuring that it takes a few bullets out of circulation. Strange as it may sound, her clinic is a place where bullets are welcome!

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