Hope alive in South Sudan

February 12, 2014 | 11 a.m.

News | Sarah Boadwine, Kathryn Eurman and Emma Nichols for The Clarion

South Sudan has been under constant turmoil since its birth two years ago. Violence, hatred and persecution rule the streets, as this new country fights to establish what other countries have developed over hundreds of years.

On July 9, 2011, South Sudan declared its independence from Sudan. Violence broke out almost immediately because of certain disputes that remained after the separation. Sharing of oil revenues has been a major issue in South Sudan, as the border that was created secured an estimated 80 percent of the oil in the previously united nation for Sudan.

South Sudan is at war with at least seven armed groups in nine of its 10 states, and tens of thousands of people are displaced from their homes. Fighters accused the government of plotting to stay in power indefinitely and not fairly representing and supporting all tribal groups.

A war that was seemingly being fought by soldiers is starting to include civilians as well. After the political tension between South Sudan’s leaders erupted into mass violence in the streets of the capital, the crisis exploded into a war of ethnic divisions with civilians as targets.

According to New York Times reporter Nicolas Kulish, top United Nations human rights official Navi Pilla expresses deep concern about “the serious and growing human rights violations” taking place in the country.

Mass murder and violence have plagued civilians, both because of their ethnicity and because of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. This civilian war has left the people of South Sudan in a state of unrest.

Full-scale civil war is on the horizon for South Sudan. Even though many people around the world can’t see an end to the mass violence, two Daystar students, Charity Jomo and Priscilla Bol, both originally from South Sudan, see a glimmer of hope.

Jomo and Bol are from an area in South Sudan called Victoria, though they have been displaced to Kenya while they complete their education. Both have family and friends in their home country and are concerned for their safety, since contact with those back home is limited.

"No one could have suspected what happened, because we lived for three years in peace and everything was okay," Jomo explained. "Your family is there, and you don't know what could happen in the next minute. It's just freaky."

Bol expressed how difficult family contact became once the violence broke out. As parents stayed home working to provide for their families, it became increasingly challenging to pass along resources to their children living abroad. "Our parents struggle now, but it used to be easy," she said.

Their cases seem to be common for South Sudanese students whose parents send them away for safety reasons. Kenya is a likely country of refuge for these students, though Jomo explained that Kenya will never be the same as home.

"This is not my home,” she said. “I'm only here for a purpose, so it will never be the same here. But I can somehow say I'm comfortable, because people are lovely. They love you and support you when you are sad.”

Despite fearing for their families, friends and country, both girls have high hopes for the future and wish to return once the violence stops.

"I love my home, so I'd like to go back there," Bol said.

Bol and Jomo added to the message of hope that comes from the people of a broken country.

"We hope first for peace, and I believe we will get it. It won't take long," Jomo said. "I believe in that. It's gonna happen. I really think we'll be okay."

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