An Unexpected Opportunity

Written by Steve Blacket on Tuesday, 23 June 2015. Posted in South Sudan

Our first conversation about training nurses and midwives in Juba, South Sudan.

An Unexpected Opportunity

I had just returned to Juba, South Sudan, and was chatting with my friend James Abraham. “James, do you know what I’ve done? I’ve signed an agreement with the Ministry of Health in Aweil to provide a midwife training centre.”

At that stage there weren’t any qualified midwives for the whole state, and they reported that more than one in ten women were dying in childbirth. It was the most significant moment of my career.

I will never forget James’ reply. He said “Oh Steve, that’s good. But we really need a midwife school here too.” Then he started telling me the names of the women he knew who had died in childbirth in the few weeks I had been away.

Instantly my excitement was pushed away by a familiar, overwhelming sense of grief. In the developed world maternal mortality is generally discussed in terms of statistics, medical research or development strategies. It is easy to forget that every one of those statistics represents someone’s daughter, someone’s sister, wife or mother.

I said “Im sorry James. I have this opportunity to help in Aweil, but I don’t think I can do anything here in your community.”


That was in 2012. A few weeks ago I rang James and asked “Do you remember that time you asked if I could help train midwives for your community, and I told you it was impossible? Well, I’ve just made an agreement with the Ministry of Health in Juba. We’re going to help develop their School of Nursing and Midwifery.”


About the Author

Steve Blacket

Steve Blacket

Steve is the Managing Director of Fulcrum Aid, an organisation dedicated to sustainable freedom from extreme poverty with partnerships in four countries across Africa and the Asia-Pacific. Steve’s urban ministry in South Australia led to lifelong friendships among the South Sudanese refugee community who requested Steve’s assistance with community development in their homeland. Working with a faith-based organisation Steve initiated and managed various projects in South Sudan including Darfur refugee support, training and resourcing Traditional Birth Attendants, an intervention program for war affected children, a Midwives Training School, a program for girl’s education, and a community agricultural enterprise. Steve also initiated education projects and social enterprises among the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh. Steve returned to Australia in 2013 with a vision of how a small, non-aligned aid organisation committed to assisting early stage, locally initiated projects could make a difference. Partnerships and project opportunities continue to grow, including slavery rehabilitation in South Sudan, social enterprises in Bangladesh, independence schemes for vulnerable young women in Uganda and South Sudan, holistic care for HIV affected children in Bangladesh, and resourcing a Nurse and Midwife School in Juba, South Sudan. Steve’s vision drew support from across Australia and in 2014 he led the founding of Fulcrum Aid, dedicated to supporting in-country leaders and harnessing Australian partners and resources so that local communities could move towards sustainable freedom from extreme inequality and poverty. Today Fulcrum Aid has a dedicated team of Directors and an expert staff including Business, Project, Publicity and Research consultants, supported by Steve in his role as Managing Director.

Contact Steve by email here.


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