South Sudan: Surviving on Hopes for Peace

South Sudan: Surviving on Hopes for Peace

Publication info

Holly Frew

“When will the world help us live in peace again?” That’s the burning question that Nyagadh has as she tries to resume some kind of life in an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp, but living in fear of fighting and wondering how she will feed her family is not the life she thought she would have to face again.

Before the fighting broke out last December, life was improving for Nyagadh. She and her husband owned a successful restaurant that generated enough income for them to own a home, feed their family three times a day and put all eight of their children through school. Many of her children are now grown, and she is a proud grandmother to nine grandchildren.

“Everything was so peaceful. No one was expecting any violence, so when the gunshots rang out, it was like an earthquake just hit our community, and everyone ran for their lives,” said Nyagadh.

The violent chaos destroyed everything around her. As they were fleeing the violence, her son got caught in the crossfire. A bullet struck and killed him.   Soldiers looted and destroyed her restaurant. She walked with her family for hours and they scrambled to get on a boat to take them down the Nile River away from the violence. Some boats were overloaded with people trying to run from the bullets and bombs. She watched as they capsized, and many people drowned.

Nyagadh, along with 25,000 other people, fled to Wau Shilluk where they now live in congested tents with no access to toilets. There’s a designated area far away from the camp where people are supposed to go to relieve themselves, but it’s a half hour walk from the camp and at night this is unsafe for women and children. Many of the people have no choice but to relieve themselves in an open field near their tents.

This resulted in an alarming cholera outbreak throughout the camp. Over 700 cases have been reported and nearly 20 deaths. CARE is responding by building 200 latrines throughout the camp, but logistically it’s been a challenge to get building supplies to the area because roads are impassable during the rainy season and the conflict.

“The severe funding gap to this crisis is evident when you see how long it’s taken to start construction on urgently needed latrines in Wau Shilluk,” said Sasi Luxmann, CARE’s Area Coordinator in Upper Nile State. “Currently, the only way to get building supplies there is by cargo plane, and there’s a short supply of cargo planes servicing the entire country as these types of urgent needs escalate.”

CARE is also working with community members to raise awareness on ways they can prevent the spread of cholera. Since Nyagadh no longer has her restaurant to keep her busy, she’s joined a CARE women’s group to promote good hygiene in the camp. Recently, she along with several other women worked with CARE staff to mobilize a massive clean-up day in the camp. The group also performs dramas creatively demonstrating ways to prevent cholera such as washing your hands and only drinking treated water.

“I am so thankful that CARE is here helping us make some kind of life while we are staying here in the camp, and helping us tackle the cholera outbreak,” said Nyadadh. “But my prayer is that we will have peace and my family can rebuild my life in Malakal.” 


After the fighting broke out Nyagadh, along with 25,000 other people, fled to Wau Shilluk where they now live in congested tents with no access to toilets. © Photo: Holly Frew/CARE