Please create an account
or Log in to subscribe


or


Subscribe to our RSS feeds Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Facebook Subscribe to our RSS feeds Watch us on Youtube View us on Instagram

Mother reunited with her children after harrowing five-year search

Nyagonga Machul, 38, embraces her children (L-R) Nyameer Mario, 6, Nyawan Mario, 4, Ruai Mario, 10, and Machiey Mario, 8, after being reunited with them at the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Protection of Civilian site (CoP) in Juba, South Sudan, February 13, 2017. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

Mother reunited with her children after harrowing five-year search

Mother reunited with her children after harrowing five-year search

In the chaos of South Sudan’s civil war, it took three years for Nyagonga Machul to find her lost children.

Machul had travelled from her village to the capital when President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, fired his deputy Riek Machar, a Nuer, in 2013. The dismissal triggered a civil war in the world’s newest nation that has increasingly been fought along ethnic lines.

Nyagonga Machul, 38, embraces her children (L-R) Nyameer Mario, 6, Nyawan Mario, 4, Ruai Mario, 10, and Machiey Mario, 8, after being reunited with them at the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Protection of Civilian site (CoP) in Juba, South Sudan, February 13, 2017. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

Nyagonga Machul, 38, embraces her children (L-R) Nyameer Mario, 6, Nyawan Mario, 4, Ruai Mario, 10, and Machiey Mario, 8, after being reunited with them at the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Protection of Civilian site (CoP) in Juba, South Sudan, February 13, 2017. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

Machul found herself cut off from her son Nhial, now aged 14 and the protector of the family; 10-year-old Ruai and 8-year-old Machiey, brothers who love board games and swimming; 6-year-old Nyameer with her shy smile; and Nyawan, now four but then the much-loved baby.

For years, Machul prayed for news. In December, she heard her children were alive – but far away in Bentiu, the northern gateway to the nation’s oil fields. More than a thousand 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) of battlefield stretched between them.

A flag flies inside a local church in the village of Nimini in northern South Sudan. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

A flag flies inside a local church in the village of Nimini in northern South Sudan. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

Machul had left the children with their grandmother, but one night gunmen had attacked their village.

“I was in bed sleeping. All of a sudden I heard the sound of gunshots, then people shouting, screaming,” said Nhial.

A child swims in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Protection of Civilian site (CoP), near Bentiu, northern South Sudan, February 8, 2017. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

A child swims in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Protection of Civilian site (CoP), near Bentiu, northern South Sudan, February 8, 2017. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

The panicked children scattered and hid near the river Nile. Wandering back, they found each other, but not their grandmother. They decided to flee.

They walked through swamps, in chest-deep water infested with snakes and crocodiles. They begged food from families with little to spare.

Machiey Mario, 8, Ruai Mario, 10, Nyameer Mario, 6 and Nyawan Mario, 4 (L-R), wait to board a United Nations flight to Juba where they will be reunited with their mother, near Bentiu, South Sudan, February 13, 2017. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

Machiey Mario, 8, Ruai Mario, 10, Nyameer Mario, 6 and Nyawan Mario, 4 (L-R), wait to board a United Nations flight to Juba where they will be reunited with their mother, near Bentiu, South Sudan. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

Then a former neighbour, Nyabika Temdor, took them in, camping with them on a tiny island in the Nile. But gunmen struck again and they ran.

“I had to pay someone to carry the little ones, as they couldn’t walk,” Temdor said.

After four days, they reached a camp for displaced families in Bentiu. The sprawling settlement of 120,000 people is bordered by barbed wire and watchtowers.

That’s where CINA found them. A local organisation supported by UNICEF, its workers trace separated families. They enter the names of lost children into a UNICEF supported database that holds nearly 15,000 names.

Nyagonga Machul, 38, sews a table cloth as Ruai Mario, 10, touches the head of his sister Nyawan Mario, 4, in their home at the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Protection of Civilian site (CoP) in Juba, South Sudan. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

Nyagonga Machul, 38, sews a table cloth as Ruai Mario, 10, touches the head of his sister Nyawan Mario, 4, in their home at the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Protection of Civilian site (CoP) in Juba, South Sudan.
REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

Having a parent vastly improves the long-term chances of a child’s survival, said Marianna Zaichykova, a spokeswoman for UNICEF. But the program is chronically underfunded.
Last year, reunifications dropped by 50 percent because there was not enough money to trace families, Zaichykova said.

Machul was lucky. UNICEF arranged for the children to fly to Juba this week. Their mother waited for them, in a tent made of sticks and plastic that looked just like the one they left in Bentiu.

Nyagonga Machul, 38, touches the feet of her younger daughter, Nyawan Mario, 4, in their home at the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Protection of Civilian site (CoP) in Juba, South Sudan, February 15, 2017. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

Nyagonga Machul, 38, touches the feet of her younger daughter, Nyawan Mario, 4, in their home at the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Protection of Civilian site (CoP) in Juba, South Sudan, February 15, 2017. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

She dappled drops of water on her children’s faces in a traditional blessing. Her friends began to sing. And then she opened her arms for her children.

“God has answered my prayers,” she said. “I am so happy.”

Share on Facebook Pin on Pinterest Share by Email

Post a Comment

© MiNDFOOD 2017. All Rights Reserved

Web Design Sydney

0 Shares
Share
Tweet
+1
Share
Pin