A new hospital rises near Zalingei, Sudan with the help of two USF professors and a USF graduate student.
The idea for bringing once
conflicted sides togther in a health care setting came to Adeeb Yousif while
being held and tortured by the Sudanese goverment for his human rights work
there. While in custody, the intelligence official who had beat and tortured
him over an extended period became ill with malaria. As the son of one of the
first pharmicists in Darfur, Yousif decided he had no choice but to treat his
torturer and nurse him back to health.
Now a University of San
Francisco master’s degree student in international studies, Yousif is on the
verge of making that distant vision a reality. He and Anne Bartlett, assistant
professor of sociology and the director of the USF Master’s Program in
International Studies, along with Gamal Adam, adjunct professor of sociology, recently helped to oversee
the construction of a small hospital in a remote area of war-torn Darfur, about
35 miles outside Zalingei, Sudan and are working to recruit staff.
Yousif is the founder of
the Darfur Reconciliation and Development Organization (DRDO), a
non-governmental organization that advocates for peace in Darfur through
sustainable development and advocacy. Bartlett and Adam are directors on DRDO’s
The goal of the hospital
is to build trust among area residents by providing aid to women, children, and
elderly victims on both sides of the war as well as individuals suffering from
HIV/AIDS, Yousif said.
The region, in western Sudan,
has been a battleground since 2003 when longstanding tensions between Southern
Sudan and Northern Sudan turned violent. Recently, however, agreements have
been reached to grant Southern Sudan secession from the north, potentially
opening a door to decreased ethnic and religious violence in the region.
Ideally, DRDO’s hospital
will act as a symbol of peace and operate as a source for non-violent
interaction among individuals from the south and north, in addition to its role
as a medical treatment facility. Doctors and patients at the hospital will come
from all sides of the conflict and require a gradual building of trust from
those on the other side. It’s an approach commonly used in conflict resolution
to humanize enemies.
“Mr. Yousif soon found that
the torturer’s attitude towards him began to change. He was released and, after
being released, was invited to the home of his former torturer and his family,”
Bartlett said. “This ultimate act of forgiveness proved that perpetrators and
victims can move beyond hostility.”
“Our aim is to create
peace building among different tribes in the area by using one facility,”
In addition to
the hospital, the DRDO is developing a school support program for displaced and
orphaned children in Zalingai and working on a reforestation project that
incorporates local crop cultivation – programs that the organization hopes will
expand as support grows.