Saving South Sudan from Collapse

Alibef Taban’s story of life in South Sudan reads like a horrible game of Jenga.

One by one, conflict pulled out the supports his family needed to survive. And now they’re threatened with collapse from homelessness and hunger.

Alibef is the father of seven children.  When South Sudan’s civil war invaded his village in December 2016, the family fled for their lives. Alibef is a farmer by trade, with an elementary school education under his belt. But his family is starving.

The Tabans are living in a tent, in a temporary camp. The community hosting them already has a history of violence over grazing rights.  Those skirmishes have killed nearly two dozen people in the past two years.

Pull out a block, then another and the tower totters and leans a little more.

His story comes in rapid-fire simple statements:

  • “I had no choice but to leave behind my 75-year-old dad.”
  • “I have heard nothing from him for the past year.”
  • “There’s no land to plow.”
  • “We can’t go more than a mile from this camp, everything is insecure.”
  • “We are forced to wait for aid workers to give us some food.”
  • “My girls sometimes collect fire wood from a nearby forest. They sell it in the market so we can eat once a day.” [Editor’s note:  Does sending your girl children to a forest, in the midst of a civil war, sound safe? But it’s the only way they can eat.]
  • “My father dropped out of school in grade three. I dropped out in grade seven. My children aren’t going to school at all.”
  • “Every day our bodies are getting weaker and weaker.”

South Sudanese family in tent

Abilef with five of his seven children, in the tent they now call home.

 Pull out a block, then another and the tower totters and leans until it collapses.

The United Nations classifies 1.9 million people in South Sudan as internally displaced persons. That means they’ve been forced out of the homes that they know and love. They’ve moved nearby in hopes they can return home again, rather than fleeing to another country.

People like Alibef who are capable of earning an income and raising their own children, suddenly have no way to survive. Especially if they are farmers or herders who depend on family land for their livelihood.

Rebuilding Families Will Help Rebuild South Sudan

Food for the Hungry braves bullets in South Sudan to provide basic staple food distributions to families like Alibef’s. That’s a temporary solution.

When we can — when security allows — FH has been distributing seeds, tools, and fishing implements so families can rebuild their lives. We’ve been constructing and repairing schools to educate the next generation. We’ve helped communities improve sanitation so children don’t die of easily-preventable diseases.

We strive to keep families whole and to build up the communities they live in. Often this means peacemaking between community leaders. Or, helping people on opposite sides of a war learn to forgive. Many families here have lost loved ones, either in the civil war or in the grazing rights feuds. Each surviving family has to deal with grief and trauma of seeing loved ones slaughtered. FH is walking with families to help ease that pain and rebuild their lives. When you give to our Children in Crisis fund, you’re helping support vulnerable children like Alibef’s.