The area of Maiwut has, in recent years, been strongly affected by the civil war in South Sudan. Many people have had to flee, including Nyaluak and the rest of her family.

She says they did not have time to pack anything but suddenly had to escape into the bush and eventually over to the neighboring country of Ethiopia. There they lived in cramped and poor conditions in a refugee camp for two years before finally being able to return to a completely destroyed home. Nyaluak herself dreams of becoming the district`s first female doctor.

“I hope to be able to finish school so that I can follow my dream of becoming a doctor,” she told ADRA (Adventist Development and Relief Agency).

Nyaluak, age 13, has the goal of becoming the village’s first female doctor. After the civil war at the beginning of 2020, things looked optimistic. Then the coronavirus reached South Sudan.

In order for her to reach her goal, she would be challenged by many obstacles. The school system in South Sudan is weak, with a shortage of equipment and teachers without education. It is also not something that is prioritized by parents, especially for their daughters. Many girls are married off at a young age and would never get the opportunity for an education.

Gry Haugen, from ADRA, visited Maiwut in the Upper Nile region of South Sudan in February 2020. The country is one of the poorest in the world and has for years been hit by a civil war that has sent the industrious segments of the population on the run across borders. One of those who experienced the greatest impact was 13-year-old Nyaluak, who once again has had to put her dream on hold.

“Nyaluak’s sister was married off when she was 15 years old, and Nyaluak is very worried that the same thing will happen to her,” Gry said.

Ensuring Girls’ Education

When the school in Maiwut reopened after the war in the autumn of 2019, things looked brighter than they had for a long time. However, the coronavirus crossed the border into South Sudan.

Gry exclaimed, “What a disappointment! We can complain here where we live, but Nyaluak! The schools had to close again, and the children are once again prevented from continuing with their education. I have thought a lot about Nyaluak and her dream afterward, I know so well how much she wants this. You are somehow not allowed to take the dreams and hopes away from children and teenagers.

“I think with concern about all the girls who will never return to school again because they will be married off or placed with the domestic tasks. At the same time, I think it’s not hopeless for Nyaluak. ADRA works very actively to ensure that girls also receive an education, as soon as the schools in South Sudan reopen, and ADRA also provides some teaching in smaller groups.”

Every child, everywhere, has the right to go to school. There is an urgent need for education for children in South Sudan. ADRA works in cooperation with the communities to provide teacher education, school materials, hygiene training, and sanitary napkins for girls, as well as psychosocial work.

“The work of ADRA is especially important in areas such as this one in South Sudan, where there are not many other organizations on the ground. Natural disasters, civil war, and pandemics hit hardest on those living in extreme poverty and those without education,” said Gry, adding, “The corona crisis came on top of a number of other challenges in South Sudan. Now we will work to improve educational conditions and provide training in infection control so that Nyaluak and other children in her situation will receive an education and an opportunity for a better life.”

This article was originally published on the Inter-European Division’s news site


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