David’s mother had a life that he describes as the South Sudanese dream.
She lived with her grandchildren and David could call and talk to her any time despite living thousands of miles away in Washington, D.C. But that changed on December 15th, 2013 when the uprising of violence and threat of genocide in South Sudan shook the lives of millions.
Within weeks, the day that David feared came. His mother didn’t answer the phone when he called. It took him several days to find out what had happened.
A family member told him that his mother could not run from the violence in their village. She insisted that the rest of the family leave without her. David’s sister held her small child and tried to stay with his mother, but his mother refused, calling on a soldier to drag her away. After months of searching, they never found her.
Like many other members of the Sudanese diaspora, David speaks to his family there often and works hard to send money to help – there are few jobs and few opportunities. He knows that they are the lucky ones – 2.5 million people in South Sudan face the immediate risk of severe hunger and nearly 2 million people were forced to flee from their homes and are living in temporary camps.
A year after the fighting began, peace is elusive. Numerous cease-fires have been broken and peace negotiations remain stalled. But instead of giving up, David sees hope.
Hope in forgiveness, hope in the members of the Diaspora, and hope in the world’s ability to act.
“We need to be able to forgive one another. I start with myself. I lost my mother. But I’m willing to sit down with a person from the other side and say I forgive you and you forgive me. If anyone kills one of your family members by using the name of my tribe, I ask you to forgive me for that. To have reconciliation like this happen you have to bring people who are directly affected by the conflict together. I have hope in talking to one another.”
David also sees a critical role for the Diaspora. “If you need change, use the Diaspora. You have an infantry of talent, smart, educated people who aren’t being used. We bring critical human resources that can help make South Sudan a better place.”
Though this troubled country lies so many miles away, David says those in the United States taking action and sharing the news about the crisis in South Sudan has a direct impact back home.
“When the people in South Sudan know they are being heard, that somebody is worried about me somewhere, that could strengthen their hope …. And if you have that attitude you can actually make it through difficulty.”
You can help by sharing David’s story and signing the petition to President Obama asking for a robust diplomatic presence on the ground; lead the charge for an arms embargo; help provide humanitarian aid to prevent a famine; and, demand accountability for those who began the fighting by increasing targeted sanctions.
South Sudan, A Country in Jeopardy
Time is running out for millions of people in South Sudan. A year after the war began, there are dangerous warning signs of increased fighting and potential genocide. Immediate action is needed. Ask President Obama and the international community to help: