|Despite my situation, I started primary school in 2000 and did well for the next few years. However due to attacks in 2003 by the Lord’s Resistance Army, the people in our camp were moved to other camps. My parents moved to a new settlement and I was taken to stay with my grandmother at a different settlement. Soon afterwards I moved in with another relative and started a new primary school where I stayed until 2007, completing school with the second top grade!|
(Nimule, South Sudan) June 25, 2012 – At 19 years old, Loria views her life with a lot of hope. However when she first moved home after exile, this was not the case. Jesuit Refugee Service has helped her to see life in a different light. Despite recently losing her father, Loria showed strength of spirit and a positive attitude during her interview with JRS. She shares her story below.
I was born in 1992, the fourth of five siblings. At the time, my family was living in exile in Adjumani district, northwestern Uganda. [Many Sudanese and South Sudanese were forced to flee from their countries due to the civil war that lasted from 1983 to 2005. They fled to Kenya, Uganda, and other parts of the world.]
Ours is a farming family and my father was good at his job, even under the difficult circumstances of exile. He always produced enough for us, and the excess was sold in order to pay for other basic needs. Rations of maize, sugar, cooking oil, soap, salt and other essentials were also supplied to us as refugees, by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
We were coping well, apart from one issue. My father had a serious weakness for alcohol. He would drink, using money from the proceeds of the sales, and then come home to harass the family. We lived in fear due to this.
School during exile
Despite my situation, I started primary school in 2000 and did well for the next few years. However due to attacks in 2003 by the Lord’s Resistance Army, the people in our camp were moved to other camps. My parents moved to a new settlement and I was taken to stay with my grandmother at a different settlement. Soon afterwards I moved in with another relative and started a new primary school where I stayed until 2007, completing school with the second top grade!
After success at primary school, I was lucky enough to join secondary school in Adjumani. However it was at this point that the demands for my education and for my own life began to increase. My family found it difficult to support me, particularly as they had been successful in repatriating back to South Sudan. After a few more years of struggle, it was decided that I should re-join the rest of my family and return to my home area. I had no idea how I would continue my education as my father was by that point suffering from HIV and AIDS and so could not work very much.
A window of opportunity
Despite the family tragedy that was now upon us, a window of opportunity opened as a result. One day, whilst going to the hospital to collect his medication, my father learned of JRS scholarships being offered to students from disadvantaged families. He took me to the JRS offices for consideration and after identifying a school with a vacancy, I was granted a place and support from JRS. I was provided with most of my tuition fees, stationery, counseling and sanitary materials. My parents, particularly my mother, raised the rest of the money themselves in order to top up my fees and pay for my uniform.
Thanks to JRS, I have been able to enjoy my time at school despite being from a family dealing with many challenges. I have participated in lots of extra-curricular activities and held a number of positions of responsibility, for example Assistant Games and Sports Prefect, Inf
ormation Officer for the drama club and Head Girl. During my time as Head Girl I was pleased to see the number of girls increase at the school from around 92 in 2010, to 113 in 2011 with only a few dropping out.
Support for girls’ education
As I wait for the results of my final secondary school examinations, I hope that I will pass and can then proceed with my plan to go for police training. At some stage I may also train as a nurse. I would like to urge JRS to continue their support for girls’ education and allow more disadvantaged girls to realise their dreams of completing their studies.
Jesuit Refugee Service has been operating in Nimule since 1997, supporting a community of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and war-affected persons. Later, the project was expanded to support the populations of returnees who came back from exile in neighbouring countries such as Uganda and Kenya after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005. JRS’ support in the formal education sector spans across 25 primary schools, four secondary schools and 15 functional adult literacy centers – in total a population of about 15,000 beneficiaries. A particular focus is on increasing access to education for girls.
Peace Building and Education in Southern Sudan
202-462-0400 ext. 5946