Hope and hardship in Southern Sudan
As southern Sudan prepares to become a new country my thoughts often turn to the women and children I met who were on their journey back to the south to start a new life.
When I met Diama, who was nine-months pregnant, she was one of hundreds living in a cramped school in Bentiu waiting to make the final stage of her journey back to where her grandparents lived. “I was born in Khartoum,” she told me. “My parents were born in southern Sudan but because of the war they moved to Khartoum [the capital of Sudan]. This is my first time in southern Sudan.”
Living in the cramped conditions in the school with no privacy she was extremely worried about where she’d give birth. “I’m due in the next few days. When I left Khartoum I never expected we’d be staying in a place like this [the school]. If I have to deliver here, I don’t know what will happen to me.”
I often think about her and just hope that she made it to her new home before she gave birth and that she gave birth safely. I hope she now has a healthy young child who will grow up to fulfill his or her potential in the new country with the opportunity to go to school and get a good job. I hope he or she grows up without the same fear and upheaval that his mother experienced during the long war streching over decades and whole Sudanese lifetimes.
“In the future I just hope to be able to stay in my new home comfortably — where there’s no conflict and no war,” Diama told me. “I hope there’ll be schools, and the most important thing is that all my children go to school and study. Without an eduction it’s very difficult to earn a living. If there hadn’t been war I would have been able to go to school. My children should go to school. Education is very important and this is what I want for my children.”
And I just hope that this is what Diama and the other mothers I met get.
Save the Children is providing child friendly spaces to keep children safe as their parents get to work establishing their new lives. We’re also distributing essential goods to help people set up their new homes.