When an armed group attacked a village in South Sudan, the members of the village lost many loved ones and basic necessities.
James Dut* lives in Kalthok village in South Sudan, where Samaritan’s Purse has been providing necessities for people in need.
It was around 10 a.m. on Wednesday, January 22, 2014, as I was going about my usual chores; suddenly I heard gunshots in the direction of the main road. I thought it was the usual gunfire by herdsmen in the village, but the shooting persisted and advanced. That was when we all realized that our village was being attacked.
On their way from Juba, South Sudan, the opposition attacked the military barracks in the southern part of the village. They were shooting at any living thing they came across. The whole village was in chaos as everybody was running for their lives. I ran into the swamp and hid there. My wife and our seven children fled the village in the direction of Yalakot at the shores of the River Nile. The mayhem lasted about two hours.
Several hours after the guns fell silent, I came out of my hiding place with a few other men. We moved around the village and found several people lying dead, including women and children. Our grain stores were in flames, and several huts were burning with elderly people inside. I remember hearing the voice of one old woman who was shouting for help from inside a burning hut, but it was too late for us to rescue her. The opposition killed a chief in our village and took our young men captive. Many have not returned.
I went searching for my family in the direction where they ran. On the way, I found bodies along the path. Fear gripped me, and I thought my wife and children were victims. As I drew near the riverside, I started calling out the names of my children and wife. The whole place was dead silent, and there was no movement at all.
Suddenly my wife saw me, and she came out of her hiding place with six of my children. They looked terrified, hungry, and tired. I told them all was well and we could go back home. I asked her where our 6-year-old daughter was, and she told me she ran in the direction of the swamp when the shooting started.
We walked back home, but my heart was not at peace because of our missing daughter. We began searching for her the following morning and found she had drowned in the swamp. This made me so sad, and I asked myself why such a thing would happen to an innocent child.
Despite these tragedies, we thank God for bringing Samaritan’s Purse to help us. We appreciate your efforts in providing us with clean water by fixing our boreholes and teaching us good hygiene practices. I trust your coming here will encourage more kindhearted people to come and rescue us from our dire situation.
As you can see, our village has been left in total devastation, our people have been killed, animals taken, and houses and food burnt. We are helpless, and it is our prayer you get more resources to help us.
*Name has been changed for protection.