Violent conflict in home area forces woman to flee for her life and the life of her children
This was not the way she planned to bring her child into the world. When South Sudan, where she lives, became the world’s newest country only a few years ago, she had high hopes for her nation, her future, and for the children she would give birth to.
But in the space of only a few months, Rose’s world has become a much different place.
When war broke out between government and rebel forces in South Sudan, it started off in the capital city of Juba, far from her home in Bentiu.
Rose and her husband thought they would be able to wait out the violence in safety.
They already had two young children, and Rose had just found out a few days after the fighting started that she was pregnant with her third. She didn’t want to move
Everything changed during what has become known in South Sudan as the April massacres.
“We heard shooting and didn’t know what it was all about at first,” says Rose.
“But then we saw everyone running. We joined them and began running for our lives.”
Two hundred people were killed and another 400 were wounded when rebel forces captured Bentiu, hunting down men, women and children and killing them even inside churches, hospitals and mosques.
“Very many people died,” says Rose. “I don’t even want to dream about it.”
Pregnant and with two young children, Rose fled Bentiu for safety in the eastern part of the country. Her husband was unable to go with them, as he worked for the government and couldn’t leave his post.
Surviving on wild fruit, they walked for six days with 200 other people until they reached safety at a United Nations protection camp near Juba.
But the camp wasn’t an easy place to live. And staying there wasn’t a guarantee of safety.
Figuring she had little to lose, and wanting to take advantage of the dry season before the roads became too muddy for travel, Rose and her children went sought peace and safety in Budi County, in the eastern part of the country.
She found peace there, but that’s about it.
The people of Budi County are small scale farmers and herders. They have difficulty making ends meet in the best of times. With the war going on, and so many people displaced, this is not the best of times; there is no extra food to go around, and few places to live.
Rose and her two children live in an abandoned hut. Since she is eight months pregnant, she can’t work.
Sometimes people take pity on her, and give her food in exchange for small chores like weeding.
Other days, “I move from house to house begging for some small food,” she says. “Sometimes all we have to eat in a day is a cup of flour.”
Fortunately, help is coming for Rose and her family. Together with ADRA Canada, the Foodgrains Bank is responding to the food needs of displaced people in Budi County, where Rose is living.
She and her family are one of 1,627 households registered to receive a monthly ration of 50 kilograms of maize, five kilograms of beans, three litres of cooking oil, and one kilogram of salt.
The food will help them survive until they can go home, or get back on their feet by growing their own food.
Rose prays the local government authorities will grant her and other internally displaced people land so they can grow their own food when the next planting season comes.
“Tomorrow we don’t know what will happen to us,” she says. “We give it all [our future] to God.”
–Amanda Thorsteinsson, Communications Officer
To learn more about how Foodgrains Bank members are responding in South Sudan or to make a gift toward helping us respond, click here.