The winds of change are blowing in Wau. After the biggest rain storm of the season washed the streets clean this morning, the skies cleared, and Southern Sudanese got down to very serious business. In a few hours, the 193rd nation in the world will celebrate its independence.
For weeks now, everyone, young and old, has been preparing for this. Students have practiced their dancing and singing, military bands march up and down as they practice their formations, and everyone is cleaning, decorating and putting on their best show. The optimism and energy are electric. The sound of the brand new national anthem, played through loudspeakers all over town so everyone can learn it, is a background to the frenzied last minute preparations.
But the excitement is not the whole story. Today I sat with people displaced from Abyei, homeless and hungry during the greatest day in their nation’s history. An elderly man named John, blind and frail, ran from Abyei town as soldiers burned houses to the ground. His tales of the journey are horrific, including rescuing an orphaned baby on the way.
The people of South Sudan have welcomed his family and offered them free accommodations. But aid agencies are having a difficult time registering the fluid flow of migrants, and basic needs are not being met. Although John hopes for a new future, he is wise enough to know things won’t change at the stroke of midnight.
“The new government can make a difference, but what will happen to the people of Abyei until then?” he wonders. “If the area is secure we will go back, but until then we don’t want to be forgotten.”
World Concern will be celebrating along with the people of the new Republic of South Sudan, and we will walk alongside the hungry, homeless and in need until their lives are stable. To help, visit www.worldconcern.org/feedsudan.