Salome is now living in safety with a relative. The YWCA provides school supplies, enabling her to obtain an education.
Sudan, in Northern Africa, is larger than Texas, and it is one of the poorest countries in the world. Bordering the Red Sea between Egypt and Eritrea, it has seven other neighboring
countries. More than 800 languages are spoken by 19 diverse ethnic groups in this Sahara desert nation of 36 million people. Sudan has experienced civil war for the past two decades and more than four million people have been displaced internally, while others have fled to nearby countries. Women and children bear the major brunt of poverty with unwanted pregnancies due to rape, poor health care and other burdens. Women have very few legal rights when it comes to choosing a husband, filing for divorce, escaping domestic violence or gaining ownership of land and animals. Yambio is a city in South West Sudan, and the YWCA is one of just a few resources for women and children there.
Case history from a survivor: “Reports had come that the Lord Resistance Army (a rebel guerrilla army led by Joseph Kony, a self-proclaimed messenger of God accused of murder, mutilation, torture, rape and the abduction of civilians) was coming to Yambio again. That night I heard gun shots at midnight and grabbed my children and we ran to the nearby stream, with bullets flying nearby. Our soldiers tried to fight them off and the shooting continued for about an hour. Then I heard our neighbors’ door smashed in and the rebels took two women away from that house. They also abducted two girls, ages 14 and 16, in another neighbor’s house. My children and I were lying down, hiding in the bushes. I nursed my baby, so he wouldn’t cry and give us away. The rebels passed very close to us and I prayed and prayed that they wouldn’t find us. Finally I heard one of them say, “Let’s go!” We stayed in hiding until 6 o’clock in the morning.”
“My husband and I had split up for safety, and when I went to look for him, there was much crying. So many girls, ages 12 to 18, had been taken away! They say these girls are the best choice for wives, because they do not have HIV and AIDS. Two people had been killed, one of the rebels and one of our own soldiers, and two U.N. soldiers from Bangladesh had been shot, but not killed. An 8-year-old girl had been shot in the hand. Before they left, they looted the Catholic Church and killed one civilian there. They took more than 50 women and young girls. They use the older women to carry their things, and they force the young ones to be their wives. I have suffered in war for most of my life and when the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed, we thought there would be life with hope, but no, it is worse now! My only daughter is just 12 years old. Where shall I hide her?”
The World YWCA, in response to requests from the YWCA Yambio, has supplied funds to help some girls avoid abduction by rebel forces by helping them flee to live with relatives or in an orphanage in a nearby country. It costs about $225 for transportation out of Sudan, including living expenses and school supplies for one year, for each girl.
To help with this and other critical YWCA programs, please send a check to YWCA World Service Council, 1015 18th Street, NW Suite 1100, Washington, DC 20036. Twelve articles about the work of YWCAs in 122 countries around the globe are available on www.ywcaworldservicecouncil and www.ywca.org. For more information contact the author at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org This story may be downloaded and copied.