Women of Gorlgangbang, South Jebel Marra protecting and raising future generations

How women in this remote area of Sudan overcame years of disconnect from basic services due conflict

Iman Mustafa
17 December 2020

Gorlangbang, is a remote village in the southern mountains of Jebel Marra. It is a 6- hour walk to the top of the mountain, and about 155 KM from South Darfur’s capital, Nyala, and the only way to reach there is by foot, donkey or a camel. Gorlangbang is a mountainous village and is one of the largest in the Jebel Marra area with a population of approximately 125,000 people, including Internally Displaced (IDPs). Due to conflict in the area, many who were displaced fled to seek safety in this area which had been inaccessible to humanitarians for over ten years until June 2020 where UNICEF and its partners were able to access and assess the situation to further support the community. The area lacks the most basic necessities, including safe drinking water, health care centers and proper school infrastructures.

Despite the ongoing challenges, the women of Jebel Marra are taking many initiatives to improve the lives of the children in the community. They are training themselves to become volunteer teachers, and health care providers for their community while managing to provide for their own children.

Nada Ismail Abdullah Adam, Grade Seven Volunteer Teacher

Meet Nada Ismail Abdullah Adam, she is 27- years-old and a mother of four children, who  has been a teacher in Gorlangbang School for over three years teaching the seventh grade. Nada volunteered her time to teach at the school so her children and the community are able to continue to receive education despite the lack of education services in the area due to inaccessibility. There are approximately 25,000 school age children, 40 percent of whom are out of school due to the limited resources. However, despite the hardships, Nada believes that education must continue.

Gorlangbang Women
ImanMustafa
Gorlangbang Women
ImanMustafa

I have to take my baby with me to work because no one else can take care of him. My husband is gone most of the day farming in the far mountains

She happily carries her 10-month-old baby boy Abutalib on her back as she teaches her daily lessons.

Asha AbdelMonim, Midwife

Meet 23-year-old Asha AbdelMonim, a mother of three boys, and a certified midwife. She has been helping her community to safely deliver healthy babies as there are no health centers in the area. The nearest hospital is six hours away and can only be reached by foot. Although she’s a midwife, Asha uses her health background to also support in emergency situations.

“The villages have been displaced many times and disease outbreaks are common here. We have to take pregnant women with a bed and walk six hours to the nearest center. The environment isn’t great and there is no safety, many women risk harassment on their walk”

Asha is eager to provide easier and safe services in Gorlangbang, as it continues to allow accessibility for humanitarian relief.

Asha’s husband was injured and lost both his legs during conflict clashes, so she is now the only caregiver for her family. She hopes to one day be able to live in a safe environment with immediate access to the basic services.

 

 

Gorlangbang Women
ImanMustafa
Gorlangbang Women
ImanMustafa

“My hope for the future is to have peace for all of Sudan. I want my children to live in a peaceful environment and everything’s available for them. I want them to have equal opportunities to have a full-time job or even one day become leaders of this country”.

It is the stories and strength of these women that give Jebel Marra hope for a brighter and peaceful future. UNICEF continues to support newly accessible areas by opening health centers, supporting school infrastructure and the urgent training of midwives and teachers. In Gorlangbang, UNICEF with partner Care International Switzerland started an integrated Health and Nutrition Primary Healthcare clinic serving children under five years as well as adults. The clinic, the first to be established in this area, was immediately seeing more than 300 patients per day. While high levels of malnutrition were recorded (66% of cases were Severe Acute malnutrition) many serious cases, including of Spina Bifida were referred to Nyala Teaching Hospital (requiring almost 2 days of travel by donkey and car). The clinic also provides midwifery services and offers in-service training on reproductive health. UNICEF was also able to reach more than one thousand school children with learning materials. As part of a nation-wide polio campaign targeting children under five, more than 9,000 children received their first ever polio vaccines in Gorlanbang.

With thanks to our partners; Muslim World League and the European Union for supporting UNICEF’S intervention programs in newly accessible and conflict affected areas in Jebel Marra.