29 April Apr 2014 2012 29 April 2014

South Sudan, the diary of an humanitarian worker: when the college is an oasis of peace in the midst of the war

Torit, Eastern Equatoria, the South Sudanese state where AVSI carries out several projects. It is one of the 10 states now facing a refugee crisis, as many Southern Sudanese from more violent regions devastated by the civil war continue to seek sanctuary wherever it can be found.

The free flowing reflections of Anna Sambo, AVSI representative in South Sudan, jump from practical considerations to heartfelt observations. They speak of her life in Africa as an aid worker and of her growing awareness for the importance of her work. Here you will find one of her latest thoughts.
The activities have started again in St. Mary’s College in Juba. AVSI is supporting the School of Education there. Dr. Ben is the Dean of the School. He has studied abroad; he has lived much of the story of South Sudan. At the end of the day, he stops by our office and he tells us his story. During the war he was in the southern regions and he escaped, for days and nights, into the bush, into the savannah, close to the mountains.
That day he is not around; he has not arrived to the office yet. It is still morning and he comes in the afternoon. The students are sitting for the end of term exams. My staff calls me: “Anna, one of our students came here in uniform and with his gun”. “Anna” – they say – ¬ “he is here because he wants to attend his exam, as his schoolmates are doing now”. Why did the gatekeeper let him come in if he knows that no one in uniform and with guns is allowed to enter? Why did that student come here although he knows that no one can get in uniform, least of all with guns? He is in the classroom, alone, with his uniform, doing his exam. When he came into the College, they took his gun and they took out the ammunitions.
The Secretary of St. Mary’s College took the gun. It is in the logisticians’ office. That gun is now at the centre of everything, when the Lecturer tells us that the student has to go away since he has received a text. His brother or his cousin has been killed. Caution in the movements. Who takes the gun? Who will give it back to him? Where? When? He’s nervous. What can he do? We think without talking to each other. Only when he will be outside the College, along the street, he will have the gun back. Anything can happen there. But, here, inside the compound, it’s a peaceful place.
Read more on the from the Diary of Anna Sambo on