Sarah is working in the Level 1 Clinic in Abyei, where her main role is to provide basic medical care to the UNMIS personnel assigned in the area. “One of the biggest changes to which I had to adjust was the pace at work. I was used to 12 hour shifts, running up and down hospital corridors all day and night, and working with a large collaborative staff base. So as a coping strategy I was looking for an opportunity to volunteer outside of the UN clinic.”
An opportunity arose when Sarah came across Benjamin Kidd, who was serving as a UN military observer (UNMO), and is also a first aid instructor in the Canadian Army. Benjamin planned to train Joint Integrated Police Units (JIPUs) in Abyei on first aid techniques.
The first training course took place at the end of June. “A week later there was an incident in Tajalai, Abyei area. Two of the policemen who attended our course were there, administered first aid and evacuated the causalities” says Sarah. “The safety of the community relies on these people; they need the tools and training to be able to respond.”
Proving to be valuable training for the police units, in conjunction with the medical personnel of the Zambian Battalion in Abyei, Benjamin and Sarah developed a plan and offered the training to the four Joint Integrated Unit (JIU) camps in the area. Each class had 22 soldiers attending, 11 from the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army and 11 from the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF).
“The JIU soldiers were hugely receptive to the course. The highlight for me has been the interaction and collaboration between the participants, their team spirit, interest and enthusiasm. We also had some interesting discussions on the role of ‘medicine men’ and traditional cures.”
As Benjamin recently left Sudan, Sarah plans to continue these trainings with the Zambian Battalion, aiming to train some of the JIUs and JPIUs as trainers, who will then be able to continue educating their colleagues, family and community long after UNMIS has gone.