Voices from Juba

South Sudan

September 23, 2014

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  • Photos: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps

Millions of people in South Sudan are struggling to survive while their country is at war. But who are the people behind the staggering statistics?

Tongping camp was one of the first to shelter displaced families when fighting erupted in the capital of Juba last December. Our teams rushed to provide emergency supplies like blankets, mosquito nets, water cans and soap.

Recently, I revisited the camp, still home to more than 20,000 people in crowded tents, to see how families are coping. I met people who are strong and full of life, despite the suffering they see and experience every day.

Nyabiey, 10: “I lost my school and friends. I miss school very much. In the camp the school is in a tent and too crowded and I can’t learn anything. I want to teach other children that fighting is wrong and we must work together to build a good country.”

Gatluak, 23: “I lost everything in my house when I had to flee. I lost my business and ability to earn money. I have nothing left and have to depend on aid organizations now. I lost my freedom. I hope I can go home.”

Nyawaragak, 20: “I lost my dream of South Sudan. We worked so hard to be free and have independence. Now, it is all gone. I just want to be able to go home and live in peace. That is all I hope for.”

Chiok, 4: "I lost my uncle. He was taken away and hasn’t come back. I want to go home. I hope my uncle is waiting there for us."

Nyataba, 11: “I lost the chance to skip rope with my friends in school. I want to be a doctor someday so I can help other people.”

James, 12: “I lost my education. I don’t go to school here because I have to look after my brothers and sisters and try to earn some money by helping move things in the camp. I hope we have peace soon and go back to our lives.”

Chudier, 34: “I am afraid we have lost our future and everything we worked so hard for to win our independence. I lost everything. We worked hard to build a life here and have beds to sleep on, blankets and plates to eat off. Now it is all gone. I just want peace and to be able to take my family home, so they can have a normal life. I spent most of my life as a refugee, I don’t want my children to grow up like I did.”

Machok, 50: “My house was looted when the fighting started. Everything is gone. It is empty and broken. I hope we can have peace.”

Nyakhim, 11: “When we had to leave, we couldn’t bring anything with us. We lost everything – our chairs, beds, and everything in our house. I hope I can go back to school and become a doctor someday.”

Nyakhan, 6: "I lost my home. Now I live in a tent and it is very crowded. We all sleep on the ground. I hope we can go back home soon and I can play with my friends."

Nyaruach: "I lost my health. Since the fighting and having to come here for safety, I have lost weight. I am even losing my vision. I am always sick here. I hope for peace and to go back home. But even with this crisis, we still have our independent country. We must work hard to build our country.”

Mercy Corps is working to help families cope in some of the hardest-hit areas in South Sudan. We are rehabilitating living spaces in isolated villages to help give displaced families safe places to shelter, and providing seeds and tools to help them grow more food.

In crowded displacement camps, we are distributing water and building sanitation facilities to help prevent the spread of disease. We also run several safe learning spaces that allow children to play and learn during the conflict.

How you can help

Make a gift to support Mercy Corps' emergency response work in South Sudan and around the world. You'll help families survive this crisis and overcome the hardships they face in many of the world's toughest places. Donate today ▸