When I reflect on the minimal amount of material possessions the residents of South Sudan own, I remind myself to be thankful for even the little things. As I talked with one of the pastors living in South Sudan, he tried to show me pictures of the remains of his home “north of the border.” A military friend told him that his home no longer had a roof and the windows were shot-out. He reflected on the life and job that he left to cross the border to safety and was now living on monthly food donations and whatever he could produce on a 29-meter-by-29-meter plot of ground, which he received in order to use for a home, yard and garden. Although each home receives a monthly food ration, it is not enough. Some of the residents sell a portion of the food to buy other necessities or to pay for school fees for their children. There is also tension among members of various tribes living in such close quarters. “North of the border” tribes do not typically live as neighbors, and each tribe speaks a different language.
As our team visited outside one of the simple homes, we asked one woman if we could pray for her. She unselfishly asked for prayer for her husband’s other wife who was sick in Sudan. Polygamy is common in Uganda and often accepted as a way of life.
Most of the residents of the refugee villages are women and children, so the women do all the work of farming, building homes, caring for the children, carrying water and protecting the few material possessions.
At another home we visited, there was a boy – about ten years old – wrapped in a blanket and lying on a mat. He had no energy and had felt badly for some time. After we prayed for his heath, he showed us a tumor on the back of his arm about the size of an egg. He was weak and just laid on the straw mat all day.
Schools are crowded in the village, material possessions are few (each family receives three pots to carry possessions as they are processed at the border), homes are just simple one-room huts with straw roofs, and families are separated as the women and children are typically helped across the border leaving the men behind to “fend for themselves.” It is evident that these people need food, but they also need the peace, hope and love that only Christ can give.
By: Julia Hall