Putting a Dream into Action

A Letter from Jim and Jodi McGill, serving in Niger and South Sudan

March 2020

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Write to Jodi McGill

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November 11, 2019, was a long-awaited day for both Jodi and Jim. On this day in Niamey, ESPERANCE, the nursing school of the Eglise Evangelique Republique du Niger (EERN) nursing school was opened, while in Juba, South Sudan, the Simple, Market-based, Affordable and Repairable Technologies (SMART) Centre of the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan (CPCS) began its first training session. Years of preparation were celebrated on this day; primary goals were accomplished, and the focus could now be shifted to moving forward.

ESPERANCE’s first semester closed in early February with the second semester beginning shortly thereafter and ending in May. This is great news because we are finally able to begin educating nurses and putting a dream into action. It is also terrifying because the students, teachers, and patients are placing their trust in the ability of the school not only to educate the students but also to inculcate them with a desire to serve others and an ability to be critical thinkers.

The school utilizes a modified version of the curriculum of the West African Health Organization. It has been modified to reflect the Nigerien education system and to comply with its requirements. ESPERANCE is also following the curriculum of the Ecole National de la Santé Publique (ENSP), the national nursing training college which sets the national nursing exam.

ESPERANCE draws from the expertise that is available in Niamey. This includes the quilt of missionaries in the community, the health professionals from the national nursing college, and government experts. The school can also utilize visiting health professionals to provide unique educational opportunities because the school is bilingual French and English, and has wide connections among faith-based and non-faith-based professionals.

A visiting professor of physical therapy and her students held a two-day theoretical and practical seminar on body mechanics, patient transfers and the use of assistive appliances. The visiting National Director of Pediatrics in El Salvador taught a morning session on the prevention of neonatal death. This lecture included practical resuscitation techniques of neonates. A visiting Professor of Anesthesiology, with a specialty in pain management, taught a course on acute and chronic pain control. His presentation included a practical session on the use of ultrasound to visualize the placement of nerve blocks.

Though the school has begun well it faces serious challenges that need prayer and action. First, pray for the students to be able to face their upcoming semester as caring professionals when they begin their first clinical rotation. Second, pray for more students to enroll next year so the school can be financially viable. Third, pray for someone to hear a call to come as a volunteer Dean for the school. If there is an interest, Jodi will gladly provide a job description. Fourth, the students need medical models and mannequins for the skills lab. Pray for a way to acquire them.

Jim returned to Juba in November to prepare for the “Short Course on Self-supply Technologies,” (Short Course) a week-long introduction to locally produced low-cost but high-quality Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) products. These products and services include drilling for groundwater, building reservoirs for water storage and rainwater catchment, manual and solar-powered pumps, redirecting runoff into groundwater recharging wells and several methods of water purification. Also introduced were locally produced latrine options as well as locally available off-the-shelf improvements to encourage and increase improved sanitation and hygiene. The Short Course was opened by the Director of Rural WASH for South Sudan, Mr. Peter Mahal, who advises the SMART Centre in addressing the WASH needs of the people in Rural South Sudan. Mr. Henk Holtslag, the Director for the SMART Centre Group, based out of the Netherlands joined the Short Course as the lead trainer in the fabrication of WASH products, while Mr. Laban Kaduma, who has manually drilled over 4000 wells in Tanzania lead the training in manual drilling.

Twenty South Sudanese and Ugandan participants attended the Short Course, including community members supported by the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan, representatives of the Government of South Sudan, members of both local and international Non-Governmental Organizations, and local business entrepreneurs. The Short Course was a strong start from which the Centre may grow.

After the Short Course, Jim returned to the U.S. to complete all treatments related to his earlier peritonitis. He is well now, and again we would like to say how much we appreciate all of the support during the year. The return to the U.S. allowed Jim to share Thanksgiving with the Dimmock family at Mission Haven and celebrate Christmas with our sons Michael and Jason, and Jim’s sister and her family. Thanksgiving also included an enlightening conversation with “Uncle” David Miller (Nancy Dimmock’s father) who shared, with much joy and humor, his wisdom from many years of experience in the mission field. We grieve with the Millers and Dimmocks over the passing of Uncle Dave on 23rd December 2019.

We will be in the States for Interpretation Assignment beginning the middle of June 2020 and are hoping to visit many of you. Please contact us so we can schedule dates.

We are grateful for your prayers and support.

Jim and Jodi


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