Up close with South Sudanese IDPs

By October 2, 2015
(Photo courtesy Food for the Hungry)

(Photo courtesy Food for the Hungry)

South Sudan (MNN) — The South Sudanese Civil War has brought problems and grief into civilians’ lives. Even after the signing of the peace deal last August, there are spots of violence that have forced large numbers of families to flee.

Since December 2013, two million people have been displaced, according to Bloomberg Business.

“The people who flee their homes in those pockets essentially flee to other parts of South Sudan, usually to places that are known to be relatively peaceful,” says Josh Ayers with Food for the Hungry.

“Those internal refugees, essentially, those numbers are continuing to increase.”

Since so many people are clustering in only several areas and they’ve abandoned their homes during harvesting time, there’s a significant lack of food.

“The ability to buy food–because they’re unable to grow [it themselves]–has really diminished. So what we’re seeing are extremely high numbers of malnutrition.”

Right now, around four million are considered malnourished.

But FH is helping to decrease that number and influence people to be more self-sustaining. “Our programs were aimed at trying to help people grow their own goods…in these new areas where they’re living because of the way the seasons have worked out.”

FH gives training on farming and fishing, and they provide the equipment needed.

“We try to focus on the most vulnerable populations, which in these contexts tend to be female-headed households, the elderly, the handicap, and children under five. So we try to target the most vulnerable.”

FH shares the Gospel and tries to incorporate it into everything they do, but that doesn’t mean they discriminate against helping anyone of another religion. They still focus on trying to help the “vulnerable” in camps.

Ayers recently visited South Sudan to check up on the programs and see how effective they were. The results were better than he could imagine.

“[The people served] were really quite thankful for the training and the seed packets that were distributed as well as the agriculture tools and the fishing equipment that we distributed,” he says.

The crops that have been grown this year are looking healthy and will be ready to harvest in November, which will help make a dent in the number of those who are hungry.

Ayers also says he was surprised at how much he had in common with the people that are suffering in South Sudan. They both wanted similar things.

“I was really impressed with the dignity of these people. When we think about the word ‘dignity,’ it has its roots in worth. Human beings are worth our help, they’re worth our time, they’re worth our energy, they’re worth our resources. They are worthy of all of that,” says Ayers.

“It’s easy for us in the United States to think of South Sudan as a place that’s so far away and people that are so different from us. But once you’re there, once you’re up close and you see it, you really empathize and you really feel with them.”

FH is wondering if you’d be willing to help people in South Sudan get back on their feet.

Also be praying for peace and open hearts while listening to the Gospel.

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