December 2018 Heart Of Nuba Update

an update on your fundraising efforts for Mother of Mercy Hospital

Posted by Mark Hackett on December 16th, 2018

In October 2016, Operation Broken Silence launched the Heart of Nuba Campaign alongside of the Take Heart Foundation. This online fundraising movement focuses on supporting Mother of Mercy Hospital in the war-torn Nuba Mountains of Sudan. This is a brief update about the hospital and your progress so far.


People in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan have been living in emergency conditions since June of 2011, when the government of Sudan launched a relentless campaign of terror and death against their communities. The Sudanese government has officially banned all aid and media organizations from the Nuba Mountains in an attempt to cover up their war crimes. The deteriorating situation here has become a forgotten conflict for much of the world. Click or tap the map for a visual. 

A fragile ceasefire is currently in effect in the Nuba Mountains, but many expect it not to last. 

In the warzone sits Mother of Mercy hospital, the only 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 hospital depends entirely on private fundraising and donations to treat the wounded and train the staff.

Heart of Nuba Campaign Update

The Heart of Nuba Campaign is the official online fundraising effort of The Heart of Nuba film, a feature-length documentary about the staff at Mother of Mercy Hospital and the Nuba people. Funds raised through the Heart of Nuba Campaign go to supporting the amazing work being done everyday at the hospital. You can watch this short video to learn more:

Hospital Update

To date, 19 fundraisers and 9 fundraising teams have raised over $43,000 from 175 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!

Dr. Tom recently put out a video message thanking everyone for supporting the hospital. Watch it below:

Here is a recent note from Dr. Tom:

Dear Friend, 

When people think of health problems in Africa, they often focus on the common ones—malaria, HIV, tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases. Most of the effort is rightly geared toward combating these illnesses by ensuring that medicines and vaccines are available. 

However, non-infectious illnesses (known as non-communicable diseases, or NCDs) make up a significant proportion of the global disease burden and include conditions such as cardiovascular disease, cancers, and diabetes. Worldwide, 71% of deaths are due to NCDs, and 75% of those deaths are in low- and middle-income countries such as Sudan. 

Here in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan, we seem to have an inordinately high number of cancer patients with a wide variety of types. In children, we have patients with leukemias, lymphomas, and bone cancers. Adults have cancers of the cervix, uterus, skin, prostate, bone, liver, lung, and soft tissue, in addition to leukemias, lymphomas, and nasopharyngeal (nose and throat) carcinomas. 

The Gidel Mother of Mercy Hospital is the only facility providing cancer treatment for literally a thousand miles. We treat nearly all these patients with some combination of chemotherapy. Many children with Burkitt's lymphoma get a complete cure with chemotherapy. For those who present with advanced, inoperable liver or cervical cancer, we can only offer palliative care. 

You'll be moved by the story of Zainab, a 13-year-old girl with a disfiguring facial tumor that had been growing for months. She was so ashamed of her appearance that she walked around with a scarf covering her face. We took a needle biopsy of the tumor and waited a couple of months for the result as the tumor continued to grow. The result came back as a small round blue cell tumor—a rare tumor with some similarities to the more common Ewing's sarcoma. We started chemotherapy and got dramatic results—not likely to be a cure but at least Zainab can go outside without covering herself. For a couple hundred dollars, we have extended her life and significantly improved her social situation.

Thank you for your support of Gidel Mother of Mercy Hospital and the Nuba people.

Dr. Tom Catena

And there is more exciting news! The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative has just named Dr. Tom as its first chairman. The Initiative works to "raise public consciousness about atrocities occuring around the world and reward those working to address these major issues in a real and substantial manner." From Aurora

The Co-Founders of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative have announced Dr. Tom Catena, an American physician and Catholic missionary from Amsterdam, New York has joined the organisation as Chair.

The appointment was announced during the Aurora Dialogues in Berlin. Dr. Catena joins the organization during a period of significant growth and will be responsible for engaging key humanitarian stakeholders, working with global partners and overseeing Aurora’s educational and outreach projects, including the internationally recognised, Aurora Prize.

In May 2017, Dr. Catena was named as the Aurora Prize Laureate for his courageous work in the Nuba Mountains. Since 2008, he has served more than half a million people as the sole surgeon at the Mother of Mercy Hospital, an institution he has been dedicated to since. He has been based in Sudan’s war-ravaged territory for the last decade where humanitarian aid is restricted. Known as “Dr Tom” by locals, he provides treatment for people suffering ailments and war wounds. He will continue his role as Medical Director at the hospital working with a team of doctors.

Our team here at Operation Broken Silence and our friends at Take Heart Foundation want to thank each of you reading this for supporting the hospital in 2018. As we look ahead to 2019, 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 literally 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 Dr. Tom and the incredible team 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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About Mark

Mark began working on Sudan issues in 2007 after an eye-opening conversation with a genocide survivor from Darfur, Sudan. Since 2011 he has overseen the steady growth of our organization. Today, he serves as our Executive Director.

Mark makes sure our on the ground programs stay on the rails and that our movement remains focused on our end goal of closing our doors one day. He’s one of only a few Americans to have visited frontline areas in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan during the war.

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