Images: Karen Attwood for Action Against Hunger
Roda's story: "we are all sisters"
When Roda was forced to flee her home in South Sudan, her life fell apart. Thanks to a vibrant mother's group in Uganda, she has found renewed hope and strength.
Jun 13 2017
Roda Keji, 29, arrived in South Sudan in 2014 from Mugali village. Today, she is living in a refugee settlement in Uganda with her four children and is pregnant with her fifth child. She also looks after the three children of her younger sister who was killed in Juba in July 2016.
Roda is an active member of one of the many mother-to-mother support groups set up by Action Against Hunger in northern Uganda, to help mums rebuild their lives. In each group, we train an elected lead mother to teach the others mums about nutrition, infant feeding, hygiene and staying healthy.
“We ran because of the war. Government troops came and took people from their homes at night, men and women. They accused them of helping the rebel soldiers. My husband is in Nimule, which is a Ugandan town on the border of South Sudan. He couldn’t cross the border because he doesn’t have the right documents. Women are allowed to cross freely. I have been across the border once to visit him last September. Also as a man once you have crossed the border, the government believes you have joined the rebels so there is no going back. We have to accept that we are here forever in that case.”
“I had to run with my children and when we got to the border the United Nations were there to assist us.”
“When we first arrived there was nothing to eat and my children really suffered from hunger. We had no shelter and there was no one to help us. I had to build my own homes from bricks. I built the foundation and then I sold my food ration so that I could pay for men to finish the house. At the moment I use my food ration to make pancakes and I sell them to make money for my family but it is not enough. My husband also sends us money to help support the family.”
“My sister’s husband was a soldier and he was killed fighting the rebels. It was the school holidays and my sister’s children were staying with me when the war broke out and we fled. There was no way they could get back to her in Juba. My sister was then killed in July 2016 by crossfire in the middle of shooting. The children never saw her after we fled.”
“All of the children are in school. If I have any problems I share them with the mother group.”
“We are all united. We are all sisters.”
“If I need to go to the healthy centre my neighbours will help me.”
“I don’t know when I will see my husband again. We speak on the phone. He asks all the time ‘How are the children?’ If the war stops I will go back to South Sudan with my children.”
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