This July, South Sudan turns five years old, but for the majority of that time, the country has been in a war. Most children of the country can’t remember a time of peace, especially those born in the same year the country was.
Since fighting began in 2013, 2.3 South Sudanese have lost their homes and 5.1 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. 680,000 children living there are malnourished due to the conditions they are living in. There aren’t enough wells, so children drink dirty water. Most of the children are unable to attend school, especially the girls. On top of it, there is currently a malaria outbreak, which the UN is calling “unprecedented.”
The fact that upset me the most was that children in South Sudan are thirteen times more likely to die before their 5th birthday than American children. Recently interviewed by a CARE are two girls who are turning five this month are Zeieya and Chianyal. Their stories bring to light the struggles people in the country, especially children, are going through.
In 2014, Zeieya’s home was destroyed. She has no toys, so instead she pretends to grind sorghum to eat. Zeiya, like many girls in the country, does not go to school. Instead, she collects firewood to earn money for her and her family. Zeieya also helps care for her family’s goat.
Like 180,000 other South Sudanese, Chianyal lives in a UN camp. In May, she contracted malaria, and she still gets a fever at night. Chianyal doesn’t go to school because she looks after her baby sister, Nyanen. For fun, she skips rope with other kids in the camp and makes mud figurines.
Girls like Zeieya and Chianyal need our help now more than ever, so that they can one day grow up to see their country in peace. In South Sudan, 2.8 million people are in urgent need of food assistance. If you’re interested in helping, you can start by visiting CARE to donate and help them get access to meals and clean water. To give you an idea of how much will support those in need:
$150 provides nutritional support for a malnourished child
$84 provides three months of emergency meals
$41 provides two weeks of clean water
But, of course, any donation is appreciated and will help those who need it the most. Think about the life you were living at five years old or maybe the lives of your children and how stark the contrast is to the children living in South Sudan. Together, we can help each other and make a difference.