Friday, May 18, 2007

Family reunification

Reading back over my posts the last few weeks I realize that things were looking quite grim and I was feeling a bit low.
Today, things are looking up for several reasons:

First - the cook has recovered, no one else has been evacuated, and I'm still feeling quite healthy.
Second- I got out of Kapoeta and into the field, I visited the market, bought some beads, and ran into a friend in Torit.
Third- I saw the real impact of the peace agreement on families in South Sudan today:

Most if not all of my Sudanese colleagues have lived as refugees at some point in time. I've spoken about their time during the war and many have been living apart from close family members since the war started until today. During the war family structures fell apart and children were raised alone, with another family member, distant relatives, or strangers. (For example many of the 'lost boys' that were resettled to America that fled the country as unaccompanied children) Some Sudanese that I work with have been outside of Sudan for a long time and this is their first time returning and living in the country that they were born in.

One colleague fled to Uganda as a child where he was raised by his grandmother. The rest of his family was displaced to many different locations and no there was no contact with his immediate family from the mid- 80's until 2002 -not even a letter...

Today I met his elder sisters. This was the first time for me, and also the first time for him. He had not seen his sisters in 19 years and they randomly found each other in Torit today. 19 years! The last time they saw each other they were infants they were introduced to each other again by someone who knew both of them. The reunion was so touching- imagine meeting family that you don't really know because you were separated by war for most of your life. His sister had photos of the family and news from his mother that he also had not seen since he was an infant.

A happy day to see that families can finally be reunited after all of these years apart and only now because peace has come to South Sudan and people can move more freely than before within their own country.

1 comment:

Peter said...

This is a lovely post from a fragile part of the world. So good to finally hear some good news. And I'm amazed you have the ability to blogpost from the field. Keep up the good work, you are an inspiration to many here in NZ.