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The Lone Hero: Saving Lives in Sudan

It is admirable to what length Raphael Veicht is going in order to save lifes in the war zone of South Sudan. Whether professing Christian, secret believer or none of the above, God surely is using his willingness to sacrifice and to help his fellowmen under such dire conditions.

Johannes Dieterich, September 15, 2012, TAGES-ANZEIGER:

Along the mountainous border between Sudan and the now independent country of South Sudan, a German health worker continues to treat members of the local Nuba population, even as Russian-made Antonov planes litter the war zone with bombs.

LEWERE –Some people wash the car when they know they’re going to be driving guests around. Raphael Veicht, 30, has done just the opposite, carefully smearing as much dirt as possible all over his Landcruiser. “You’ll see why,” says the corpulent German health worker with the Bavarian accent as he squeezes in behind the wheel.

It’s noon, just 10 degrees north of the Equator, and unbearably hot. Ahead, we face a nearly 300-km drive in the Sudanese Nuba Mountains. It’s going to take a good 10 hours. Even more dangerous than the rollercoaster terrain is what rains down from the sky, or more specifically, from Russian-made Antonov planes that pepper the ground with random bombs.

To make sure we’re not spotted from the air, Veicht does not put his trust entirely in the camouflaging clay dirt he’s wiped all over the car. He leaves the window open so we can hear approaching planes in time. About two hours into the drive, we hear the rumble of aircraft, and Veicht immediately swings over and brings the four-wheel drive vehicle to a halt under a mango tree. We wait. Smoke clouds tell us that the bombs fell several kilometers to the north.

Veicht, who works for the German aid organization Cap Anamur, is apparently unaffected by the incident. Then again, anybody who has been living in the Nuba Mountains for the last three years is used to bombs.

Bodies full of bullets and shrapnel

The feeling of really being needed was not something Veicht had felt for a long time at Munich’s Grosshadern university hospital. For seven years, he trained there as a health worker, specializing in several different areas of medicine. “They do a lot of things there just because they know how to, not because the [procedures] are necessary or humane. That turned me off,” he says. Then a colleague who worked for an aid organization told Veicht about South Sudan. He found he couldn’t stop thinking about it.

It’s nearly midnight by the time the Landcruiser pulls up to the hospital in Lewere. As he climbs out of the vehicle, Veicht says that one thing he’ll never understand is how rally drivers can possibly be having fun. We head for some huts near the hospital. They have neither electricity nor running water – nor are there any occupants presently, besides Veicht, because no food is available: supplies were cut off when the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) confiscated all the trucks that were used to transport them. “It doesn’t matter,” says Veicht, as he prepares tea from a single remaining, dusty tea bag. “I’m too fat anyway.”

The next morning, he’s up by eight. Several dozen patients are standing in front of the hospital: children with malaria, women in the advanced stages of pregnancy, men with bullet wounds. Veicht bandages people, hands out Plumpy’nut paste to undernourished toddlers, gives anti-depressives to women traumatized by the fighting. He uses his rudimentary knowledge of one of the Nuba dialects to communicate.

Photos - Cap Anamur
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