The 9th July 2012, marks a year since South Sudan became an independent nation. Many challenges confront the new nation’s leaders, including chronic poverty, weak infrastructure and tribal conflicts. Here we report on Tearfund’s work to support the world’s newest country.
The optimism of Atak Atek Tong is irrepressible, even in the difficult conditions of a camp consisting of thousands of people.
It’s well over a year since she arrived at the rural Apada site, set-up by the South Sudan authorities near the border. She is one of the so-called ‘returnees’, people who’ve come from the neighbouring Republic of Sudan.
Atak and others live in grass huts dotted among the trees and the scrub in a flat and dusty environment where the only amenities are a few wells and latrines.
Like many of the camp’s residents, widow Atak arrived with just a few possessions but within a month of independence vital support that will secure her long term self-sufficiency was provided by Tearfund.
Thanks to generous support for our South Sudan appeal last year, Tearfund’s supplied returnees with goats which provide milk and therefore a source of income as well as nutrition. Goats’ breeding capacity means it doesn’t take long for people to have a good number of animals.
A smiling Atak said, ‘I’ve never had goats before, not even a chicken. In our community it’s very rare for a woman to own animals. Now I have three goats and I’ve given one to a neighbour.’
The income generated by the goats is paying for basic everyday needs and Atak is relishing the opportunities Tearfund’s help is presenting.
‘I’m planning to exchange these goats for cows in the near future and become one of the few ladies owning cattle in our community.’
Tearfund has organised the recipients of the goats to ensure they give their animals’ first offspring to a second wave of beneficiaries.
Abung Deng Ker has received one of Atak’s goats and is equally delighted at owning livestock for the first time.
‘God be with Tearfund for considering our situation,’ said Abung, a widow with three children. ‘With God nothing is impossible, if the goats multiply God willing, I shall get milk from the goats and also be able to sell some and pay my daughter’s school fees.’