Samaritan's Purse is bringing hope to struggling people in South Sudan by drilling clean water wells and other projects
Sadeeka fled from Northern Bahr el Ghazal when she was 8 years old. At the time, the state in present day South Sudan was still part of Sudan. Fighting and hunger were rampant in the area, so her family trekked north to begin a new life.
When South Sudan gained freedom from Sudan in 2011, Sadeeka and her children moved back to her homeland. They’ve faced a lot of struggles since their return, but Sadeeka is happy to be back.
“Although we have a lot of problems, we can call it home,” she said.
Samaritan’s Purse drilled a well in the area where Sadeeka is living to provide people with clean water. Diseases caused by dirty water can easily become epidemics in areas where people live in such close quarters, so clean water is necessary.
Sadeeka laughed as she watched water bubble up from underneath the drilling rig.
“It is our land, and we are free,” she said.
Northern Bahr el Ghazal is home to many people who have either returned home since South Sudan gained independence or fled from violence in Sudan. Even before the influx of thousands of refugees, the area struggled to support its population. Only 66 percent of people in the area have access to clean drinking water, and almost half of those people have to walk more than 30 minutes to reach the nearest water source.
Before the combination of conflict and precarious conditions made it necessary, many of these people had never received aid to help them survive their already difficult life circumstances.
A woman named Maria spoke of how the heavy rains washed away her mud hut and all her belongings one dark night. She is now living at a camp for internally displaced people. Although she is uncomfortable being at the mercies of others for care, she is left with no alternative.
Samaritan’s Purse is offering not only immediate care but also programs to help people like Maria for the future. The well program, farming, borehole maintenance, and spiritual development will ease the transition for thousands in Northern Bahr el Ghazal.
In addition to the pressure of the returnee population, skirmishes in disputed border regions create further instability. Hundreds of displaced people fled to a town called Gok Machar and to various other locations. The fighting continues, and following intensive bouts, the population becomes again internally displaced.
Another trouble that often confronts the people of Northern Bahr el Ghazal is displacement because of flooding. In 2012, several hundred families were forced from their homes and hundreds more lost their crops due to the heavy rains.
This created displacement camps because of natural disaster in addition to the displacement camps created by border fighting.
In every case, Samaritan’s Purse has responded to the needs. We have drilled wells for the host population, drilled emergency wells for displacement camps, distributed items to help families rebuild their homes, developed the capacity of farmers, and distributed farming tools and animals to local farmers.
This is all in addition to the development and training that is done with the local church to create and establish a strong foundation in the South Sudanese church.
Our water, sanitation, and hygiene programs are a key component of our work. We have drilled over 200 wells along with digging hundreds of latrines and reaching thousands with health and hygiene education.
Samaritan’s Purse is privileged to work with the Northern Bahr el Ghazal population through their struggles and their triumphs. The challenges are great, but lives are improving with every training given, every farmer educated, and every well drilled.