Published On: Mon, Jun 1st, 2015

Seeds of hope in South Sudan

“Our life is worse now. We have nothing,” says Nyanyin. Photo: © Josh Estey/CARE

Thousands of families in South Sudan are in urgent need of seeds and medical attention to prevent malnutrition. Nyanyin Jek’s family is one such family in need.

Nyanyin Jek is tired and exhausted. She just walked for two days through the swamp of Uror county in South Sudan. She is seven months pregnant and hopes to receive medical support at CARE’s health clinic in Yuai.

I live in a village called Dakriang where we have no health support or any sort of medical assistance. I heard of this clinic from friends, so I made the decision to walk here. All I ate was leaves, I had no food to bring with me for the way,” she says.

Yet, this walk has not been Nyanyin’s hardest. When the conflict broke out and the fighting reached Dakriang in January she took her four children and fled. “I stayed under a tree for three months. We had nothing to eat other than a few leaves and some fruits. I was so scared and hid my children in the grass whenever I saw soldiers passing by,” she recalls.

In March, she returned to her village just to find her hut looted and her fields devastated. “Since we are back, we have not had much to eat. My children and I eat only some paste of sorghum once a day. Before the conflict, we were cultivating sorghum and sold it at the market, but we have no seeds anymore, so we could not plant.”

In South Sudan planting crops follows the natural cycle of dry and rainy season. However, two months into the rainy season many displaced families do not have the means to cultivate their plots of land. About 4 million people are at risk of starvation and over 230,000 children are already severely malnourished.

In an attempt to combat this CARE staffers are distributing seeds. “Today, we distribute sorghum, cowpeas, sesame, watermelon, tomato, onion, eggplant and okra seeds to 560 households here in Yuai”, says Mujahid Hussain, CARE’s Program Coordinator. Overall, CARE will reach 21,000 host or displaced families with seeds in Jonglei, one of the states most affected by the conflict.

Nyanyin is just one of many women who have walked long distances to visit the small yellow building that is part of CARE’s health clinic to receive much needed medicines. Chuol Gatwich, CARE’s Clinical Officer explains: “When pregnant women become malnourished it will have long-term consequences for the well-being and growth of their unborn children.”

It’s important that child malnutrition is prevented through providing communities with the seeds they need to grow food and medicines they need to remain healthy.

Our life is worse now,” says Nyanyin. “We have nothing. We did not expect this. We were so hopeful after South Sudan’s independence three years ago, but this conflict is terrible. We are all human beings, we do not deserve this suffering.”

You can help families like Nyanyin’s by donating to CARE’s South Sudan Appeal.

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