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UNMISS staff reach out to orphans in Juba

Muna Tesfai

It was a surprise that brought instant joy to the children at the Juba Orphanage when staff working for the United Nations Mission in South Sudan arrived with food and other treats to brighten their day.

Driven by a passion for children, the staff pooled their resources to provide lunch and volunteered their time to connect with the 60 children who have little familial support after losing their parents during the violent conflict that continues to plague South Sudan.

Funded by the South Sudanese government, the orphanage was established during the first civil war in what was then Sudan. In its early years, it provided a home to more than 300 hundred children.

Orphanage Manager, Abdu Wajo, said additional support is provided by local and international non-governmental organizations and charitable agencies.

“We also get a lot of assistance from UNMISS, including toys, food, school bags and other school material,” he said.

UNMISS staff also volunteer their time to teach the children new skills.

“Two young women come every week and gather the kids to give them drawing lessons. The kids have become so used to them that they always look forward the drawing classes,” he said. “Occasionally the kids are also treated to a surprise lunch like the one we had today. We are very grateful for the food and, more especially for the company. This makes the kids happy.”

Sixteen-year-old Juda has lived in the orphanage for as long as he can remember. For him, visitors are always a welcome break from the daily routine. He says these kinds of visits make him feel appreciated and accepted by others.

“You are the friends of the orphanage, and I thank you for coming to spend some quality time with us,” he told the UNMISS visitors.

Eleven-year-old Madina has lived at the orphanage since she was two years old. She lost her parents before she could bond with them and cannot remember them. The orphanage is her home and the staff, are her family.

“My dream is be a teacher. I want to teach people to love one another,” she said.

This dream may well become a reality given the academic achievements of other children raised at the orphanage.

Raymond left the orphanage five years ago to pursue higher education, and is due to graduate from the Catholic University next year. He dreams of a getting a good job after graduation so he can give back to the orphanage.

“I feel indebted to this place. They looked after me, loved me and raised me as their own child until I left to pursue higher education,” he said. “And I long made a promise to myself to return this kindness when the time comes.”

The team from UNMISS visit the orphanage regularly, particularly during holidays and at Christmas, to bring gifts and to enjoy their company, playing, dancing, and laughing.

 

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