I am honored to call you friends. Thank you so much for being more than a friend to me, my family, and my country of South Sudan. You helped me in so many ways, and I have no single word to express my appreciation to you. As violence is unfolding in South Sudan, I want to share with you what I am going through.
When the current crisis in South Sudan started on December 15th, 2013, my heart stumbled and numbed. I knew this would be the beginning of a long suffering of innocent children, women, and elderly. Reports state that more than 1200 people have been killed in my home area of Bor. Many people including 27 children drowned in the Nile as they tried to cross to safety. More than 75,000 people from Bor ended up in miserable camps on the other side of the Nile. The worst still are those individuals trapped in the swamps without access to clean water, food, medicine, and shelter. The little development that happened during the peace time has been destroyed by the militia forces.
My immediate family members are safe. My mother is on the other side of the Nile with my sister (Atong) and her three children. My other sister (Ayuen) and her four children are on their way to Kakuma Refugee camp in Northern Kenya. My father and two brothers (Majok and Jongkuch) are in the town of Nakuru in Kenya. Another brother (Chol) is in the cattle camp with his wife and two children.
My wife Yar’s parents are trapped in the swamp between the Nile tributes. Her father and her grandmother are very old. Luckily enough, we can talk to them by phone. Her two brothers swam and made it to Juba two days ago. They were looking for food to bring to the family. We sent them money for food and medicine. They were about to leave today, but unfortunately they heard the route had been occupied by the militia forces the night before. They are waiting for the army to clear the militia forces out of that route.
I am emotionally devastated and powerless about the consequences of this senseless conflict. To me, this is a story repeating itself again. The only difference is that I am not physically there crossing the crocodile infested Nile like my two year old nephew. You are aware that I had been through this route before. I was separated from my parents at the age of 6 years and later reunited with my family after 18 years of painful separation. I never thought any child would experience what I went through. It is just heart breaking.
For the last 8 years, I invested my time to create awareness about health and education needs in South Sudan. In the course of creating awareness here in the USA, many hearts have been touched in so many ways. With the non-profit ImpactAVillage, hundreds of Americans joined hands with the people of Malek and built Malek Primary school. Before this recent crisis, Malek Primary School had about 600 children from 1st grade to eighth grade. It warmed my heart seeing those children (probably in the swamps now) attending their classes and learning normally under the roof of a building. I also helped build a clinic in Malek funded by a woman in Fremont California. Although I do not know the status of the Malek Primary School and the clinic at this time, my heart is heavy with fear that these buildings may be gone. That will be my lowest point in this crisis. As the crisis continues, my future goal of returning to South Sudan permanently looks uncertain.
What make me excited as a South Sudanese man is that we have many friends who are thinking about our country. Friends like you are sources of our inspiration to keep hoping for the best for South Sudan.