Malueth is about 21 years old. (Like most South Sudanese, he does not know his actual birthday, since most South Sudanese do not have calendars and there are no birth records.) Malueth is from a small Dinka village in Warab state. His father is a tribal leader, who raises cattle, but has no income. Malueth is a middle child of his mother’s 10 living children, but his father has four other wives, also with multiple children. As Malueth has many older brothers, he was not required to tend the cattle, and was therefore able to attend primary school.
He did so well in school that he was chosen to receive a scholarship to attend a missionary high school in Kenya. There he learned English, and was one of the top students. Upon his return to South Sudan, he was hired by a new primary health clinic funded by Doctors without Borders in the town of Gogrial. Although he did not have prior training, he was assigned to be the surgical assistant, helping to prepare patients for surgery, assist in their operations, and help care for them during recovery.
I met Malueth when I was assigned to Gogrial as Doctors without Borders surgeon in 2010. We worked closely together, caring for patients, and developing policies and procedures for the new facility. I was amazed by Malueth’s intelligence, his integrity, his drive and motivation, and his sincere desire to help his community. Malueth was also impressed with what we were able to accomplish in the time we worked together, and expressed his heart-felt desire to become a physician. However, there were enormous barriers. There is currently no functional medical school in South Sudan. Malueth’s excellent academic record qualified him to attend medical school in Kenya or Uganda, but the costs were completely prohibitive, and there was no available financial support.
After much discussion, I told Malueth that I would try to raise the money to support his medical education. As of this date, he has been accepted to medical school in Uganda. He has now made the journey to Kampala Uganda, where he is awaiting his first classes.
Malueth is one of many young Sudanese who have enormous potential to become doctors who will lead the future for the health of South Sudan. FDSS is committed to identify as many of these young people as we can, to finance their educations, and to support and mentor them as they become the future for the health of South Sudan.
written by Dr. Ken Waxman, MD
Founder, Future Doctors for South Sudan