By: Berlinda Fortin
“We just came here with our free hands, because there was a war. Life in South Sudan was not easy, so we had to travel here.”
Atong’s beautiful smile and gentle voice belie the suffering she has endured. Listening to her tell her story, it’s almost possible to believe that she and her siblings decided one day simply to cross the border with their mother for a new life and new opportunities.
Although that’s true, it doesn’t capture the horror, the terror they felt as they fled. The trauma of witnessing her father shot and killed by rebel forces.
It was not by choice that Atong and her family came to the border destitute. Their “free hands” were empty—because violent men stole their property and threatened to kill them, too.
“We faced [many] challenges, like the outbreak of diseases, lions or wild animals attacking, and then even rebels attacked people,” said Atong. “So, we lost some of our families. Like me, I lost my dad. I came here with my mum.”
Welcomed into the Kiradongo refugee camp in Uganda, Atong and her family found safety. But life was far from easy.
They began growing crops, as most families did to survive. Food was scarce and money even harder to find.
“We work in the garden and then we also buy some small food in the market,” Atong explained. “We can get a little food at home, some greens.”
Struggling to make ends meet, Atong’s mother was determined that her children would continue their education. But the only way to pay for their school fees was to borrow money. Reluctantly, she took a loan.
Hunger Makes it Impossible to Learn
When Atong arrived at school, she faced a new challenge: hunger. It was almost impossible to concentrate on what her teachers were saying. She and her friends were listless, struggling to focus as hunger gnawed at them. Many children left class – walking away in search of food.
“When there is no food, there are no smiles in class; we are bored. Even when the teacher is explaining something important … we don’t understand,” said Atong.
But at lunch time, something amazing happened: a meal.
Atong’s face broke into a smile at the memory.
“When there’s food, we eat, and we can understand and participate in class. So we thank Feed The Hungry for what they do to us by giving us food,” she said.
Feed The Hungry is on the ground, providing fortified, nutritious meals to protect children against malnutrition, help them to grow, and give them the energy they need to concentrate in the classroom.
And you can help to feed a child like Atong today. Your gift of just $6 on Take Away Hunger Day will feed a hungry child at school for a whole month. More than a meal, you’ll be helping to provide children like Atong with an education and the opportunity to know God’s love!Knowing that a hot, tasty, nutritious meal is waiting for at lunch time makes the school day even more enjoyable for Atong.
“I enjoy my meal with my friends. When we have lunch, we call each other. But when there is no food, we can just sit there bored around because we are feeling the hunger.”
Aiming to be a doctor, she is determined to study hard and graduate … and your support through Feed The Hungry will help her to learn, grow, and chase her dream of further education and helping others to be healed and whole.
“I want to become a doctor, to treat people,” said Atong. “There are problems in my country, like the outbreak of diseases. I need to support my people in South Sudan.”
Article supplied with thanks to Feed The Hungry.