After British independence in 1956, a series of coup d’états and decades of civil war left the nation of Sudan in turmoil. In 2011, South Sudan gained independence from the north, and many hoped that this would bring peace. However, eight years later conflict continues and South Sudan remains a deeply fractured country. Over the last three years, violence has intensified and nearly one million South Sudanese people have fled for their lives, taking refuge in Uganda.
Before conflict broke out in his hometown in South Sudan, Zachariah was a trader and entrepreneur. Things were peaceful for him and his wife. They had a steady income and food to eat each day. They looked forward to being able to start their own family. But soon this all changed.
In South Sudan, much of the conflict is fought along ethnic lines – between the Nuer and the Dinka. It was because of his ethnicity that the military suddenly imprisoned Zachariah one day. He had done nothing wrong. He was arrested simply because of who he was. After a short time in jail, Zachariah was released and he ran away. Afraid that the military might capture him again, and worried for his own life, he fled with his wife. They arrived safely in Bidi Bidi, a refugee settlement in northern Uganda, where they have lived ever since. They want to return to South Sudan someday, but it’s still not safe to do so.
Life in Bidi Bidi has not been easy for this young family. Zachariah has battled with the intense trauma that he experienced during his escape from South Sudan. Leaving everything he knew behind and seeing loved ones die, Zachariah needed support.
Thankfully, World Renew’s local partner, Here is Life, met Zachariah and invited him to participate in a trauma-healing program. Participating in group meetings with others like him, who have experienced trauma, gave him the opportunity to share about his experiences and begin to process these difficult memories. These meetings have also helped to bring stability to his marriage, and given him hope as he begins to raise his first child – a baby boy.
For thousands living in Bidi Bidi, the traumatic experiences of their journey from South Sudan continue to affect their daily lives. On top of this, many families also lack essentials like safe and secure homes, and reliable access to toilets.
As conflict continues in South Sudan, families in Bidi Bidi are realizing that this may be their home for years to come. As they make the transition from Bidi Bidi as a temporary home to a permanent home, World Renew is working with local partners to ensure that some of the most vulnerable families are safe, healthy, and protected.
These two photos are of latrines used by families in Bidi Bidi. On the left is a traditional latrine – four walls of thatched grass and wood, often surrounding nothing more than a square patch of earth. On the right is a latrine constructed by World Renew – an excavated pit, covered with a concrete slab and surrounded by a brick-walled structure with a corrugated metal roof. New latrines are helping to minimize the spread of deadly illnesses like cholera, typhoid and hepatitis, particularly of concern in rainy seasons when rain enters freely into the roofless traditional latrines.
Thanks to the generous support of individuals and churches across Canada and the United States, 1,740 latrines have already been constructed, protecting thousands from preventable diseases. Over the next year, more latrines and permanent shelters are being built for families in need, and trauma-healing programs are being offered to many others as they continue to process what they have experienced.
Your support is needed to help this important work continue as long as families still live in Bidi Bidi settlement.