Children – Wherever they are, they have a bold disregard for the difficulties of life.
The children of South Sudan, and especially the autonomous Abyei region, have an extraordinary number of pitfalls placed before them. Thrown into a community that is recovering from Africa’s longest civil war, they grow up with international aid attention on them and fear in their communities of upsetting the impending secession while I worked there.
Theirs is a time of innocence and discovery. The community comes together to care for them and teach them, schools were busting with students who were given opportunities to learn as the South Sudan government far south in Juba works to build capacity in anticipation of breaking away and being free of northern aggression as well as subsidies. In this same story, I witnessed a town overnight double its population by attracting kin from the north to return while admitting they have no resources to provide housing, safety or sanitation.
This was the the end of 2010 and early 2011. On July 5, 2011 South Sudan overall became a separate country, but the residents of Abyei, who expected to be a part of that new country, were denied the transfer by Khartoum and to this day remain in a country hostile to their ethnic group, the Dinka Ngok.