Dear Gen. Dr. Riek Machar:
March 4, 2014 (SSNA) — I appeal to your true leadership and desire for the best for the people of South Sudan. I’m very much appalled by the widespread destruction of properties and unnecessary harassment of civilians by your men from the unit of Gawaar soldiers. My appeal to you, Dr. Machar, is to make an effort to rein in those who are committing selfish acts among civilians. Those who are currently occupying Duk County are hurting civilians and we expect you to urge them to cease destruction of civilians’ properties.
Notable development projects such as the John Dau Foundation’s clinic, the home for orphans (African Soul American Hearts) and all of the other schools built in all Payams in Duk County were not build by Kiir’s Government but by the citizens of Duk County with unwavering support from warm-hearted Americans and Europeans who care so much and wanted to mitigate suffering of all our people.
I heard that our clinic’s fuel was looted by your men, food for malnourished children taken, medicines, equipment, beds, bed-sheets, doors, solar panels, medical equipment, computers, the clinic ambulance’s tires taken out, utensils, tools, tables, the medicines that cannot be carried by your men were set on fire and all of other essentials that enable the clinic to function have been looted by your soldiers. Please, I kindly ask that these things must be returned and the individuals who orchestrated these evil acts must be held accountable. Very generous Americans have donated over $3 millions into this work and I’m proud to say with certainty that Gawaar, Lou, Dinka, Murle and Anyuak people have benefited from this fairly. I might be born Dinka but all my thoughts and what I do have been purely South Sudanese and all my Nuer and Murle friends can attest to that claim.
This clinic has been, and we were hoping that its will continue to be, a Helping Hand to all of our tribes such as: Nuer, Dinka, Murle, Anyuak, and or anyone whoneeds medical services. I hope that your group will not bite off the hand that hasbeen rendering critical services such as restoring eye-sight for about 600 blindpeople, treated over 119,000 patients, conducted about 8,000 births, vaccinatedmore than 8,000 children, treated 101patients with TB, admitted and fed 690malnourished children and anything between.
Why would a benevolent movement such as SPLM In Opposition, allegedly created on basis of bringing democracy, development, non-corruption, and respect of Human Rights, audaciously commit the very things it blames the other opponent for? The looting and destruction of this neutral medical facility, a clinic for peace is a huge blow to all tribes as our well-kept record shows that all the four major tribes in Jonglei State have benefited from services this clinic has been offering.
You may be planning to win the war militarily but I’m afraid if such contemptible destruction of civilians’ assets continues for nothing other than culture of jealousy, you may lose the war of winning hearts and minds of people. This will be the most devastating unintended result to SPLM In Opposition, to say the least.
Someone has to be the true humanitarian in this conflict. If the government is not showing a sense of maturity in your opinion in this conflict, why can’t you take that role of being an adult who cares about people’s lives and avoids despicable and pointless destruction? Stop the war immediately to avoid more lives being lost.
Below is the 2012 Eye Surgery for Peace report to show you how this clinic has helped all the tribes in Jonglei State. Compiled by Ambassador Group (AG).
Bellow is the 2012 Eye Surgery for Peace report
John Dau Foundation & John Moran Eye Center with help from South Sudan Institute
“Eye Surgery for Peace” 2012 Peace Dividend Report:
The end of the two thousand and twelve mission to Jonglei State was yet another of God’s planned lifesaving missions.
As the group of sixteen doctors led by Dr. Alan Crandall from the John Moran Eye Center, University of Utah prepared and packed medical supplies to go to Jonglei State, I and Peter Magai Bul, a South Sudanese from Chicago traveled to Jonglei State ahead of the doctors to help our dedicated staff to prepare for the their arrival.
As soon as we arrived in Nairobi, Jonglei State, Deputy Governor H.E. Mr. Maar Nyuot asked that we proceed to Bor right away to attend the ongoing Commissioner’s Forum to announce to all the 11 commissioners the coming of eye doctors with mission “Eye Surgery for Peace”. We spent a night in Nairobi and then went to Juba on December 3rd and on the following morning, Peter and I left for Bor. It took us 6 hours driving to get to get to Bor. We spent a night there and on the 5th, we joined the Commissioners’ Forum event. H.E. Deputy Maar gave us 30 minutes and I explained to the Forum the importance of spreading the message of eye surgery far and wide in their communities. We told them that this is an opportunity that people with eye problems should not miss and that these doctors are coming to help people with absolutely no payment. We informed them that our transportation capabilities to bring patients to Duk will be somewhat limited to: Uror County-Lou Nuer, Pibor County-Murle, Ayod County-Gawaar Nuer, Duk
However, we will not turn away patients who are not from the mentioned above Counties but we will feed them and accommodate them as long as the commissioners and family members help us find some ways to transport them directly to Duk Payuel. Everyone in attendance including: H.E. Governor Kuol Manyang, H. E. Deputy Governor Maar Nyuot, all commissioners, MPs, State Ministers, Chiefs and their staff were very much appreciative for what JDF and the doctors are doing. However, some of the commissioners whose Counties are far away from Duk voiced concern and pleaded with us that their counties should be considered and included in the list of counties where we will pick up patients. Others were asking why we couldn’t include neighboring states into the program as well.
On December 6th Peter and I returned to Juba to recruit translators as well as to hire a vehicle to bring food to Duk Payuel for the doctors and patients. Here are the names of translators we have recruited:
- Chuol Guong from Uror County of Lou Nuer Tribe,
- Gatmun Bedeng from Ayod County of Gawaar Nuer Tribe,
- Simon Korton from Pibor County of Murle Tribe,
- Nyachuol Yeik from Akobo County of Lou Nuer Tribe,
- Peter Mazerio from Pibor County of Murle Tribe and
- Makuch Lul from Duk County of Dinka Tribe.
We all left Juba on the 9th and we made it to Duk Payuel on the 10th in time before the first group of doctors arrived. We made calls and gave screening and pick up schedule times to the commissioners of the counties mentioned above. All doctors made it to Duk Payuel on the 11th with two planes spending nights on the ground in Duk Payuel guarded by SPLA soldiers.
The group of screeners led by Dr. Roger that included: Dr. Reed, Cameraman- Patrick, Kant, Gatmun, Chuol, Simon and I got ready and on the 12th, we flew all day to counties screening patients. There were about almost 200 blind patients in Pibor County. We booked patients that a Caravan can bring to Duk for two trips.
We then flew to Uror County and screened patients there. We found patients waiting for us at the church although half of those who were there earlier had already gone after a long wait. We screened and booked candidates for surgery that would be picked up on the following morning.
Our last leg of the day was Ayod County. There were more than 240 patients in Ayod. We screened a few patients before the Sun set and promised to return to Ayod County the next morning to complete screening.
On the 13th of December, the two planes (Caravan and 206 Cessna) were busy bringing patients to Duk Payuel for eye surgery. At first, all the patients but particularly those from the Murle tribe were visibly scared as they felt that they were in an unfamiliar territory. I over heard one of the villagers who rushed to the airstrip to see Murle people for the first time that ”Oh, Murle people look like us! They are human beings!” This is truly an indication that people of Jonglei State were and are not encouraged to interact or become known to one another. We accommodated all the patients from all the counties, fed them and cared for them till the following morning.
In the morning the doctors made stations including: Registration booth, Extra-Screening area, Vision Acuity Booth, Pre-Opt area, OR area and Post-Opt area and the operations began.
December 14th was the first day to see the fruitful result and the effectiveness of the “Eye Surgery for Peace”. It was a very exciting day for the first patients whose eyesight was restored. One of the patients Mr. Elijah Bol Kuot from Twic East County after he was able to see made some of the audience cry. He stood up and praised God and sang his happiness songs and Gospel songs with others simultaneously joining him and together they praised God and the doctors for being altruistic. It was really an illustrious beginning of the peace dividend’s mission!
December 15th was another memorable day as well. Right after the doctors took off patches from 42 more patients’ eyes, one by one and quickly the whole Post-Opt room burst into praising God, clapping hands and you could hear a very loud slogan of "Jonglei Oyee, Jonglei Oyee, America Oyee, doctors Oyee" and so on.
The eye surgery went on day by day and the positive reactions, the happiness, the celebrations of those whose eye sight were restored grew louder, and louder and the clinic literally turned into a church of worship as many prayed their thanks to God and sang Gospel songs spontaneously. A day before we got patients together for a goodbye meeting, the Duk County Commissioner showed up briefly and we took him around the clinic with the intention of seeing who are these dedicated doctors as well as to see how his people plus people from neighboring counties were benefiting from free medical services. He thanked the doctors and left. Not very long after the Duk County Commissioner left, the Duk County Executive Director, Hon. Mabior Arok and his deputy Mabior Athiou also came to Duk Pauel where the operations were going on to see it for themselves. They were extremely grateful for what the doctors were doing. They were given eyeglasses to correct their reading and quality of their eye vision. Both left very happy and with much appreciation.
On December 17th after almost 98% of the patients were successfully operated on and all of them with sight restored, we called for a goodbye meeting before we started to take patients back to their counties. The reasons for the goodbye meeting are as follows:
- For the patients to say goodbye to each other
- To understand the meaning of the “eye surgery for peace”
We told them that the reason why these self-sacrificing doctors came to Jonglei State was to help restore your eyesight with no cost to you. We are doing this for peace. We want you to stop killing one another. If there is no tribal based conflict in Jonglei State, these doctors will come again and operate on more blind people and the development will come to Jonglei State.
We know the government is currently carrying out disarmament, which is an immense effort and we are cheering on both the Jonglei State and the national government for doing it. However, you need in addition to this an approach called “disarmament of hearts”. We asked a question, “If you find two people fighting each other with sticks and you intervene, and take away sticks from them, don’t you think these same individuals will continue to fight? For sure they will continue to fight with anything they can find including fists etc. Why? Because the intervener only disarmed weapons and has not disarmed their hearts. People of Jonglei State need disarmament of hearts. Things like: Eye surgery, building clinics like Duk Lost Boys Clinic and schools, agricultural projects, roads, protecting people from any attack; these are ways of disarming people’s hearts. This was how we introduced the first topic of discussion.
We also reminded them that speeches delivered at the peace conferences in your communities are great but such messages only last for few days in your memoires. However if we engage in delivering peace dividends to people such as eye surgery which effectively and positively impacts individual’s lives, it will last in your memories for life. This is why the JDF with collaborative effort from the John Moran Eye Center joined forces to implement this project.
You people of Jonglei State are not familiar with each other’s potential and how important it is for unity among you. You are not encouraged to interact and mingle among yourselves. These projects such as eye surgery which brings different tribe members of Jonglei State together to benefit and create a sense of unity through sharing of resources, ideas and equal participation in the state affairs regardless of one’s tribal affiliation is one of the solutions to your problems.
After we introduced the reason behind eye surgery and the meaning of the “ Eye Surgery for Peace” we opened up a discussion to all patients and allowed one representative from each county to speak. The patients took turns county by county to give testimonies about how happy they were after their eyesight was restored and why peace should be a household word in Jonglei State. I’ll never forget some quotations from patients representing their counties below.
Police 1st Lt. Lam Kong Who is from Uror County and was partially blind by cataracts, said "the first time I have heard of someone who have restored eyesights for free is in the Bible and that person was Jesus Christ and the second time is today and they are these doctors. Lou Nuer and Jiang are now one people and you will never hear of any conflict again." Elijah Bol Kuot from Twic East County said, "For those whose eye sight was restored, will you not communicate this miracle that has happened to you to your youth to stop raiding other villages? Peace is possible when you can see the other party. Now that we can see each other, let us unite and become the messengers for peace in Jonglei State. Let’s stop our thieves from causing trouble to the neighbor county." Nyaboth Tutdel from Ayod County said, "Americans who were brought here by John Dau are either sent by God or they are the real God’s people. How can they leave their families behind and come to help open our eyes? Peace dividend that JDF, doctors, and Ambassador Group, has been advocating can never get more real than this!”
After the speeches, we introduced the doctors and asked the entire audience to say goodbye to each other by greeting one another in the languages spoken in Jonglei State such as: Ku duaal Areet (Dinka greeting), maale mi gua (Nuer Greeting), Abonna Roth (Murle greeting), Derejot (Anyuak greeting). This greeting exercise went on and on for sometime and when I look from afar as patients embraced and greeted each other in those languages, they look absolutely like! they were drunk AND actually, they were drunk from love. You can clearly see that there is love among the people of Jongle State.
By December 18th almost every patient whom we brought or came to Duk Payuel on their own for eye surgery were returned back safely to their counties either by plane or by ground transportation. They were singing their songs and praises to God and doctors as they boarded the planes. It was something stunning. We have recorded much of the happy dances that were performed.
On December 21st one day after all the doctors safely left and all of the patients went back to their counties, the translators and I started our journey back to Bor and to Juba to brief the Jonglei State Governor and his Deputy as well as Juba authorities on the success of the peace mission. Our vehicle broke down on the way and we had to spend a night in Panyagoor, a small town that is about 55 miles south of Duk Payuel. The following morning we had someone pull our vehicle behind his Toyota Landcruiser until we reached Bor at around 6pm. Both the Governor and his deputy were not in town so we decided to proceed to Juba.
There in Juba, we were able to meet with the Minister of Information in the government of South Sudan H. E. Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin. He invited us for dinner and we explained to him how the “Eye Surgery for Peace” mission unfolded and the positive feedback we got from people of Jonglei State. H. E. Dr. Barnaba asked us to thank all the people involved in this peace mission and if the “doctors return to Jonglei State next time, please inform me and Jonglei State MPs and I will meet with them for dinner and some of us will go to Jonglei State with them.