It’s eight days since my colleague and I arrived here in Lake State in South Sudan as external consultants for a Non Governmental Organization to help it design a sustainable and quality education program accessible for girls. It’s been a wonderful week in a new environment of very friendly people here though we sometimes use sign language to for food when we are around people who cant speak English.
Two days after our arrival, we experienced what everyone has lived with for almost the past thirty years; prolonged gun shots at an inter clan fight. We were told 3 days later that some of the bullets fell in our compound. Staff here didn’t want to tell us because they knew we would be scared. We are told inter clan fights are very common here to an extent that one must always be very careful when talking to people because wrong words can incite the whole clan into a fight which we are told starts with fist fights, to sticks, stones, spears and then guns leaving hundreds on innocent people dead or severely injured. We are told here almost every one owns a gun including young boys and school children. Even when research assistants don’t perform to my expectations, I have to hide my disappointment. I know this is one way to keep the work moving on smoothly and keep every one in the team motivated and performing but I must admit it’s the only way to stay safe here.
You all know what I am talking about here; children aged between 10 -17 years, in full military fatigue, heavily armed and manning road blocks. I didn’t expect this and I have never seen a child soldier except in movies. Aren’t these children supposed to be in school? Who is responsible for recruiting or keeping these children in the army? I think one of the most urgent things the South Sudan government needs to work on is reintegrating these children into their communities and making sure they are back to school. Every time we get to the road block, I hide my camera for fear of being arrested on suspicious of taking pictures. I actually haven’t tried taking any pictures of these kids because it can easily land me in real trouble.
Thank you for reading my first article, I will try and share more soon if I have access to internet.
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My next article: IN BED WITH SCORPIONS
Lots of love from Rumbek East County South Sudan