April 2019 Mother of Mercy Hospital Update

an update from the medical team at the only hospital in Sudan's war-torn Nuba Mountains

Posted by Mark Hackett on April 4th, 2019

In October 2016, Operation Broken Silence launched the Heart of Nuba Campaign alongside of the Take Heart Foundation. This online fundraising movement provides support to Mother of Mercy Hospital in the war-torn Nuba Mountains of Sudan. This is an update on how your fundraising and giving is leading to real results at this special healthcare facility. 


People in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan have been living in emergency conditions since June of 2011, when the government of Sudan launched another genocidal war against their communities. The Bashir regime has officially banned all aid and media organizations from the Nuba Mountains in an attempt to cover up their war crimes. 

A fragile ceasefire is barely holding together in the Nuba Mountains. There are recent reports of targeted government attacks in a few frontline areas, as well as an uptick in regime warplanes flying overhead and troop buildups in government-controlled areas. While no actual aerial bombing has occurred, these bomber flights do disrupt daily life at farms, schools, and markets since people do not know if the area they are in is about to be targeted or not.

In the heart of the warzone sits Mother of Mercy hospital, the only referral hospital in the region. This life-saving facility is led by American Dr. Tom Catena and an incredible local Nuba staff. They refuse to leave and do their best to save lives underneath the shadows of government warplanes, sometimes treating over 400 patients a day. Access to basic medical supplies is extremely limited and the hospital is frequently in a financial crisis. The team at Mother of Mercy Hospital depends entirely on private fundraising and donations to treat the wounded and train the staff.

Securing funds and resources for the hospital through our online fundraising campaign is one of our organization's top priorities. You can watch the campaign trailer for Mother of Mercy Hospital to see what this actually looks like on the ground:

Mother of Mercy Hospital Update

Beginning in 2016 with the launch of The Heart of Nuba Campaign, Operation Broken Silence began supporting operations at Mother of Mercy Hospital. The campaign is in partnership with the Heart of Nuba documentary film and the Take Heart Foundation, which exist to support the incredible work being done at the hospital.

To date, 32 fundraisers and 10 fundraising teams have raised over $46,000 from 203 donors through their fundraising pages for the hospital! The funds you are raising through the campaign are sent to our partner the Take Heart Foundation, which exists to support Mother of Mercy Hospital. Great work! And here is an update from Dr. Tom: 

Dear Friend, 

It’s 6 PM on a Thursday evening and I’m asking the clinical officer {physician assistant} interns how many more patients are remaining to see me – “fifteen” they say, and the work continues. We had been at it since 7:30 AM by first seeing 300 plus patients on rounds before starting in clinic at 12 noon. The interns have just finished school and are long on enthusiasm but short on experience and practical knowledge. They can help on the rounds and in clinic but only to a certain extent.  I get somewhat discouraged – when will I get some relief?  Who will come to carry on with the work?


However, it’s times like these that I have to remind myself how far we have come since we opened the hospital 11 years ago. We started with six expatriate nurses and 15 local Nuba staff. The most highly educated of the Nuba had only finished primary school and there were perhaps only a few high school graduates in all of the liberated areas of Nuba. The ‘original fifteen’ had to be taught everything from how to get a patient’s weight to how to give an injection and start an intravenous line.  

We now have 110 Nuba nurses of whom around 20 have nursing diplomas from accredited nursing schools.  We have nine physician assistants, five laboratory technicians and two nurse anesthetists – all from the Nuba Mountains. We have four in medical school, two in pharmacy school, another in anesthesia and another in an MBA program.  In a year’s time, we’ll have the first Nuba doctor who was born and raised in the rebel held areas of Nuba Mountains come back to serve his people. Even now, when we wanted to expand our immunization program to cover most of the Nuba Mountains, we had to train dozens of people in how to dose and administer the basic set of vaccines. In a sense, we’ve had to create a rudimentary health system from scratch.

This has been long and painstaking work and has involved the efforts of many dedicated individuals but none of this would have been possible without the help of our many generous partners. We are a very ‘lean’ organization with a small number of people carrying out multiple administrative tasks in order to free up the resources for the population that we serve. With your help, we shall continue to take care of the beleaguered people of the Nuba Mountains well into the future.

Dr. Tom Catena

Our team here at Operation Broken Silence and our friends at Take Heart Foundation want to thank each of you for supporting the incredible work being done every day at Mother of Mercy Hospital. Here are a few ways you can remain involved. 

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Mother of Mercy Hospital is the only medical facility for hundreds of thousands of people in the Nuba Mountains. Without this critical healthcare institution, people would have nowhere else to go. The hospital's impact is truly incredible despite the obstacles faced here. In 2017 alone, the hospital saw 42,000 outpatients, admitted 5,000 inpatients, and performed 1,800 surgeries.

Here are three effective ways you can help support the incredible team and work at Mother of Mercy Hospital:

1. Give Monthly. This is the easiest way to support the lifesaving work being done every day at Mother of Mercy Hospital. Signing up takes less than a minute, and you'll be effortlessly provide consistent support moving forwards. LEARN MORE »

2. Become a Fundraiser. You can start a personal fundraising page for Mother of Mercy Hospital and ask your friends and family to give towards your goal. This is the best way to support healthcare work in the Nuba Mountains and get your community involved at the same time. START FUNDRAISING »

3. Give. If you're not ready to make a monthly giving or fundraising commitment yet, making a one-time donation to the hospital is the perfect next step for you. GIVE HERE »

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