During food distributions at Panacier village in southern Sudan, family representatives, mostly women, jostle in a queue to receive food. Panacier is one of several villages affected by inter-clan fighting and a dry season that has made farming difficult.
This particular food distribution will help 1,500 people: orphans, the elderly, nursing mothers, widows, and other vulnerable families who are unable to provide for themselves due to last year’s poor crop yields and persistent tribal clashes in the area.
Akuch Magok Aken, 27, is a mother of three. After standing in line, she receives her family’s monthly food ration, which includes a bag of sorghum, legumes, vegetable oil, and salt. She hoists the load on top of her head and carries it home to her short-walled hut.
The fighting started in 2006 when one of the clans rustled cattle from the other. The conflict then escalated into recurrent fighting following a series of retaliatory attacks, in which more lives were lost and property looted. During the conflict, homes and property were burnt down, and more than 100 people were reportedly killed.
But eating wild fruits came with side effects. “Sometimes the children would get diarrhea because of eating wild leaves. Life was very hard for my family,” says Akuch.
During this time, Akuch’s elder son, Ngor Majok, now 3, was malnourished. He was enrolled in World Vision’s therapeutic feeding program, where he received Plumpy’nut®, a high-nutrient paste made from peanuts, and rations of a corn soya blend until he recovered.
Before the inter-clan conflict, Akuch and her husband had their own farm and grew their own food. “Food was not a problem in this family,” says Akuch. “We grew lots of simim (sesame), groundnut (peanuts), and sorghum. When the rains were good, our food could sustain us until the next planting season.”
Even though the fighting stopped last year, the weather didn’t cooperate with getting back into farming. “We did not harvest enough food last year because the rains came late, and this limited food production,” says Akuch. Additionally, the few livestock they owned have died due to droughts and diseases.
When asked what she would do to feed her children if there was no food aid, Akuch asks a question in return: “What do you expect me to do? I am illiterate,” she says.
But the experienced farmer and mother is not without resources. She has a strong work ethic and a desire to become self-sufficient once again. “Give me seeds and tools, and I will resume crops farming when it rains,” says Akuch.
Three ways you can help
| Pray for rain to come to southern Sudan so that families can start farming and growing their own food once again. Thank God for food distributions and feeding programs that are saving lives until families can become self-sufficient.|