Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The 20 images of South Sudanese refugees I can't forget.

 I promised you photos - so here they are! The 20 images I cant forget and that mean the most to me from my recent trip to the border of South Sudan. I was there with Medical Teams International, Food for the Hungry and Tutapona for TearfundNz’s East Africa Crisis Appeal. If you missed the blog I wrote about my experience there gathering stories and images of the refugees fleeing both war and famine - you can check that out here. But if these images move you at all, let them move you to action. You can donate to Tearfund's appeal right now, right here.

A little South Sudanese baby is given polio drops as he arrives at the border crossing in Uganda.

A young girl finally makes it to the front of the line for food distribution and hands over her ration card. 

I will never forget this woman. She was brought into the camp hospital run by one of Tearfunds Integral Alliance partners by her relatives after fleeing the famine in South Sudan.

I will never forget this woman. She was brought into the camp hospital run by one of Tearfunds Integral Alliance partners by her relatives after fleeing the famine in South Sudan.

“I remember the evening when the war broke out in South Sudan. There were a lot of gun shots. We could not sleep at home so we had to run away to look for a safer place. During that commotion, my husband got lost because we were running amidst confusion. I managed to escape with our five children to the border of Uganda and we were brought to a refugee settlement. Life was extremely rough and I could not sleep at night thinking about my husband whom I have never seen up to date and that continued to torment me day and night. I had no appetite and nightmares of what I saw while running with my children. My children also were heavily affected by what we saw on the road on our way to the border of Uganda. My children hardly sleep at night. One day I attended a program (run by Tearfund's partner). Ever since then I've learnt a lot and my life has changed. I've learnt to let go of the past hurts in my life. Most importantly the program gave me hope. Now I feel much better than I used to". Tearfund is providing trauma counselling to victims of war and refugees like Mary.

The line waiting for food at one of the South Sudanese refugee settlements in Northern Uganda 

This man reminded me of my was so deeply sad to see him at a refugee settlement at this stage of his life.

This little boy is given a drip to help him recover from malaria

Nutritional screenings at the border crossing for malnutrition. I think this boy's ok...:) 

A typical house in a South Sudanese refugee settlement.

This little South Sudanese girl is at the border crossing in Northern Uganda sitting atop her families belongings as they wait to be moved to the reception centre where they will register as refugees and begin their life in Uganda. 

“I have seven children aged 3-10 years old. When the war broke, we had to leave very quickly. We saw many dead bodies as we fled. My children and I also saw many people lying on the side of the road screaming as they were in the process of dying. I had to keep going in order to save myself and my own children. As we fled to Uganda, my husband disappeared. My brother is also missing. We don’t know if they are dead or alive and it’s been nine months now.” Ayenyo, South Sudanese refugee living in Uganda

“My name is Mary and I am 42 years old. There was war at our place in South Sudan and that war killed my husband so my five children and I fled here in 2013. We came in trucks with the UN and were taken to this settlement. My children are aged 4-14 years and have had no education since then. We live in nothing more than sticks and a UNHCR sheet because we have no-one to help us build a house. I have two children with mental problems who have never spoken since they were babies. I wish there was a medicine that could help them. I do not know why they were born this way but I think they both have the same thing. We have no money to help them so they stay as they are. I feel so vulnerable here with just myself and my children. How could we ever go back to South Sudan? We don’t have anything else to do each day other than wait and hope that our food distribution comes at the end of the month for the next month. I don’t know what my future holds. I don’t know what I’m going to do.” 

A typical house and 'kitchen' in the settlements

Make-shift medical clinics and the doctors who staff them are incredible. 

Taking a moment to rest in the refugee reception center 

Taking a moment to rest in the refugee reception center 

Taking a moment to rest in the refugee reception center 

Kids will be kids. This little boy plays in the dirt outside his house making sandcastles that resemble his home (behind him).

What is Tearfund doing?
Tearfund and their partners have been working in East Africa for decades providing lifesaving humanitarian assistance and basic emergency needs to the most vulnerable people affected by this crisis.  But their resources are stretched to capacity and they desperately need more people to come alongside them. I can’t tell you what it feels like to have to turn away a mother and child or a desperate father simply because we don’t have the funds. 

We want to help South Sudanese refugees fleeing into Northern Uganda by: 

1) Over the next three months, sending in 2,950,000L of water to help people living on only a small amount of this vital element.

2. Providing trauma counselling to some of the thousands of traumatised refugees.
How can you get involved?

1. They need your prayers. Our weapon of warfare against all that is unfair, unjust and wrong in this world, is prayer. Prayer moves mountains, and we need to constantly lift up the people of South Sudan and Somalia in our prayers.
2. They need your money. We're asking our supporters and anyone who cares to show  with their actions that the people of South Sudan are not alone. We see them. We hear their cries and we can and will do something to help.
Final thoughts
 No matter how much we want to, we can’t fix the drought. We can’t fix the war. But we can help those who are affected by them. I read a quote years ago I’ve never forgotten; now seems like a good time to share it. “Sometimes I would like to ask God why he allows poverty, famine, and injustice in the world when He could do something about it, but I’m afraid He may ask me the same question.”
Please join me in giving to our East Africa Crisis Appeal today.

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