South Sudan at 4: Where will this fighting lead us?

A girl leaps across a puddle at Bentiu Protection of Civilians area during the rainy season of 2014

Three CARE staff describe their expectations at independence four years ago, and their hopes for their country’s future now.

CARE South Sudan staff member Mary Andrew Ladu

My name is Mary Andrew Ladu. (Mary works for CARE as a nutrition coordinator.) On Independence Day in 2011, I was at home. I was six months pregnant with my daughter Amito and it was too hot to join the crowds celebrating out in the streets of Juba, but I was just as excited and just as happy.

Independence was almost too much to believe: we had our own country at last. There would be no more suffering, and good things were coming. The future looked bright for us then.

I thought there would be no discrimination because we are all the same and services would be rendered equally to all.

I was wrong. All those thoughts of a better life, better health services, better education for our children have gone now.

The future of this country is once again dark. We are fighting our own selves, killing each other.

Where will all this fighting, all this death, all this destruction lead us?

CARE South Sudan staff member Chol Majuk

My name is Chol Majok. On Independence Day in 2011, I was in Panyagor in Jonglei state where I worked as a Health Officer with CARE. The celebrations were huge – dancing, speeches – it was one of the most exciting days of my life.

I thought then that all South Sudan would be free, I thought that we would have a better life.

I had been a child soldier. I grew up during the war, and I didn’t want my children to grow up the way I had to. We had our own country now, the promise of a better future – no more insecurity.

Now there are no hopes, the future is so bleak. People are dying – from war, disease, hunger. I didn’t think this could happen again.

I fear we are no longer a nation, that tribalism and ethnicity are all that matter. Our roads are all broken, our livestock is dying, it’s harder to feed our families.

This is not the South Sudan we had at independence. We need to think of our future and not be stuck in the past.

We need to know our rights and act on them, we need leaders who will take us forward.

We are looking now at the international community because our leaders will not find peace.

CARE South Sudan staff member Alex Mogga

My name is Alex Mogga. Independence Day in 2011 found me at my village in Eastern Equatoria state. Like every other South Sudanese, I was so happy.

I had been involved in raising community awareness to make sure the referendum in which we voted to separate from Sudan was not marred by the violence of the long civil war that preceded it. So I was especially proud that day, proud that our vote and our final steps towards independence had at last been peaceful.

I voted for independence with high hopes for this country. At last we would be free, and there would be better opportunities for us in education and health.

Now, the future looks bleak, so few of my hopes have been realised. This fighting shows no sign of stopping. Too many schools have closed, their teachers and pupils fleeing from fighting and forced recruitment, and health services remain nothing but a dream for too many.

South Sudan, this beautiful country with so much fertile land, is importing food to feed its people, yet who of us can pay these high prices?

When we voted for independence, we stood as a united people with a common goal but now we do nothing but fight each other. This is not what we voted for.

But it’s not too late. A solution can be found.

My hope on this Independence Day is for our leaders to sit and resolve their differences, and build a lasting peace for South Sudan.

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News and stories are provided by CARE staff working to support our emergency responses and long-term development programmes.