Women carrying goods in South Sudan.

Nyakuma and Ajou

Siblings Nyakuma and Ajou are from South Sudan, read their story.

Nyakuma and Ajou were born in South Sudan but fled to Sudan due to the conflict in their country. Recently, they have been forced to return to South Sudan and are currently seeking refuge in Malakal. Their story is one of repeated displacement to escape violence. Separated from their father, and with their mother no longer alive, Nyakuma has become the primary caregiver for Ajou.

Nyakuma recounts, “We witnessed the war in Sudan firsthand. We were living in Khartoum when the war broke out, and there was heavy shelling nearby. We knew we had to leave quickly. Since we couldn’t use vehicles, we travelled on foot to another part of the city. From there, we continued by bus, which was crowded with people. We were stopped many times; the military would halt the bus and beat some passengers. It was like this all the way to the border.

The situation at the border was chaotic. The three of us – me, my brother, and my cousin – travelled together. On the way, we ended up in different boats and were separated from my cousin. The entire journey took seven days. 

It was an incredibly hard situation. But I had no other choice. I had to manage. I was travelling with my brother and other children I met along the way who were also without parents. I stayed focused because it was my job to protect them.

My father’s whereabouts have been unknown since the 2013 crisis in South Sudan. I don’t know whether he is alive or dead. My mother died in Sudan in 2019. I miss them very much and often wonder what happened to my father, but I have learned to live without them."

The siblings at a refugee camp in South Sudan.

“The situation in Malakal is very hard for us, especially for my brother. It’s a heavy burden for me to bear, raising him on my own. He’s not attending school right now because we can’t afford the fees. I can’t meet many of our basic needs. The living conditions here are terrible. I hate that people are living like this, and that I am living like this.

War Child has provided us with cash assistance, which we used for immediate needs like food and water. We arrived here with nothing. Ajou, my brother, also attended War Child’s child-friendly space, which he enjoyed and appreciated. But, more than anything, he wants to go to school."

Ajou said, “I want to go to school so I can learn and think about the future. I want to become a professional, maybe a doctor or an architect. I want to be able to support my family. I don’t want to sit around all day. I need to live somewhere where I can go to school.”

Nyakuma added, “Home is a place where I feel safe and secure, where I have stability. It's where my brother can go to school in peace, and where we can farm the land around us. Education is crucial because it gives children like my brother hope and supports their dreams.”

War Child Protection Officer Amos said, “Ajou is very young and without his parents. Once we identify such cases, we usually provide long-term case management and psychological support. But the circumstances here are really difficult. Most people are just passing through. We hope Nyakuma and Ajou will move into the community to access further support.”

South Sudan

Political instability, local violence, flooding, severe food shortages and high inflation in South Sudan has displaced over 2 million people and has restricted access to vital services.
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