SOUTH SUDAN: Volunteers help provide hospital, medical care
Salesian Father Omar Delasa created obstetric and gynecological hospital with 50 beds and a minor surgery ward in Tonj
(MissionNewswire) Salesian Father Omar Delasa has a degree in medicine, and he lives and works in Sesto San Giovanni, Milan, Italy—but he flies to Tonj, South Sudan, whenever possible to work on a project he founded years ago. He founded TonjProject Onlus and, with the support of volunteers, has helped create an obstetric and gynecological hospital with 50 beds and a minor surgery ward. Fr. Delasa was recently highlighted in Marie Claire magazine’s Italian edition.
Fr. Delasa went to Tonj for the first time in 2006 when South Sudan was still a part of Sudan. The country suffered war for 22 years to gain independence, which happened in 2011. Fr. Delasa felt a great affection for the people in Tonj who had fought so hard and had so little. He started the hospital to provide for those who otherwise might not have access to medical care.
In the interview with Marie Claire, Fr. Delasa said, “There are many forgotten lives and problems that nobody wants to take on. Around all this sadness that often takes the name of exclusion, poverty, war, hunger, there is the fantastic world of volunteers. I would like to give visibility to this ‘silent army’ that changes its own life and at the same time that of many other people. I want people to understand Tonj, its problems, hospital, children and their mothers. Volunteers have the opportunity to dig a well, build a new photovoltaic system, set up scholarships, buy medicines and train health personnel.”
Fr. Delasa added, “This passion, which is much more to me, is a vocation. It was born by chance. From an early age, I understood that the poor and the needy could have an important place in my life and in my choices. I come from a very small village in the Bergamo mountains, where people know each other and helped each other. This led me to choose first the faculty of medicine and surgery and then the consecrated life in the Congregation of the Salesians of Don Bosco. South Sudan in general and Tonj in particular arrived later, almost by chance, following a request to try to experience myself in a missionary experience.”
Fr. Delasa mentioned in the article that there is always more for him to learn and that he is always finding ways to grow to be more supportive of those in need. He noted, “I would like to be understanding, attentive, always have a word of encouragement, a simple gesture that can instill confidence. I’d like to be more reflective and give more to those who have had less… and I know that the world, even if they don’t make noise, is full of these willing and committed people.”
Salesian missionaries have been working in Tonj for several years. Their focus has been on providing education and social development services for poor youth through the operation of primary and secondary schools and youth centers. In addition, the missionaries operate several medical clinics, including a leprosy clinic, as well as a hospital.
South Sudan is expansive and largely rural with 83 percent of the population residing in rural areas. Poverty is endemic with at least 80 percent of the population defined as income-poor and living on the equivalent of less than $1 per day, according to the World Bank. More than one-third of the population lacks secure access to food.
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Marie Claire magazine Italian edition
Salesian Missions – South Sudan
World Bank – South Sudan
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