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Hawa’s hopes for an independent South Sudan

Last December 13 year-old Hawa told me as she arrived from Khartoum to start a new future in what will become independent South Sudan:

“I don’t know anything about my new home because I’ve never been here. I hope there will be a school. That’s the only thing I have in mind.”

Hawa, 13, in transit from Khartoum to start a new life in South Sudan
Hawa, 13, in transit from Khartoum to start a new life in South Sudan

I just hope that six months later, on the eve of independence on 9 July, that Hawa has settled into her new home and is at school learning, becoming one of the new generation of children who will shape the future of her young country.

Sadly the reality is that she will probably have been displaced from her new home as fighting recently returned to the area she and her family were heading to.

When I met her she was camping in a school being used as a transit centre. Families like hers have had to move again to flee the fighting and are once again seeking refuge in makeshift shelters.

Children biggest victims

Children in South Sudan have been the biggest victims of decades of war. The new South Sudan will rank as one of the worst countries in the world for children to survive and thrive.

Only one in ten children in South Sudan complete primary school – and three times more boys than girls attend primary school.

I just hope that Hawa manages to be one of this minority. But I also hope that all those who in power do everything they can to make sure Hawa’s generation get the education and future they aspire to and deserve.

Save the Children is calling for the new government of South Sudan to ring-fence a share of oil revenues to makes sure every child has access to essential services like health and education.

New generation

It’s girls like Hawa who will benefit from this, and ultimately will be one of the new generation who will help build her country a peaceful future.

As South Sudan starts a new chapter, I hear Diama, another young woman’s words ringing in my ears; “The most important thing is that all my children go to school and study, because without an education it’s very difficult to earn a living. If there hadn’t been war I would have been able to go to school.”

Diama ponders her future as she arrives for the first time in South Sudan
Diama ponders her future as she arrives for the first time in South Sudan

We still have a large role to play in making sure Hawa and Diama’s wishes and rights are upheld as the Independence celebrations die down and South Sudan starts on its new path.

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