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“We have no shelter, food”: homeless bemoan hard life on Juba streets

The homeless children in Konyokonyo play ground next to the market

By Emelda Siama John

We have no food to eat and no place to sleep; we are just sleeping next to the road side or at verandas of shops or next to the hotel,”Maob Mabior, 17, lamented the sorrowful life had to live in the streets of Juba circumstances forced him out his home in Rumbek.

It’s been three years since the teenage who use to collect fares on a passenger taxi ferrying the Juba-Rumbek routebecame homeless after abandoned him without means of returning home.

Three years later away from the care of his parents,Mabior had only known suffering and survival in the streets of Juba.

“We are eating the remains collected fromgarbage. We collect and survive on it,” he told Juba Monitor in an interview on ahead of the World Day of War Orphans which is observed on January 6 every year to raise awareness about children who have been orphaned due to wars.
The 2013 and 2016 conflicts have killed thousands of people, occasionedeconomic hardships and displaced millions, driving orphaned children and those neglected to the streets.
In 2016, UN children agency, UNICEF estimated that Sub-Saharan Africa is home to nearly three-quarters – 393 million – of the global number of children living in countries affected by emergencies.

“I came to Juba with adriverwho promised to take care of me. However, when the vehicle we used for business got spoiled after our arrival here in Juba, the driver decided to leave me here and returned to Rumbek. I became unhappy,” he said.

“Ihave stayed here (in the streets) for 3years now because I have no place to stay and I don’t know anyone here. That’s why I became part of the street. Living in the street is hard. Sometimes I wonder what mother and father think about where I am. They don’t know whether I am dead or alive,” the weak looking teenager solemnly said.

Unlike Mabior who was driven out of his house by poverty, Bo Bol, aged 19 from Warrap State, endured a torrent of abuse at hands of his father who would beat him with ‘a big stick’ and forced him to cultivate from morning to evening even when he was exhausted.

“I left our home because my father used to beat me every day with a big stickand he would tell me to cultivate from morning up to evening while I couldn’t manage,” he said.

Bol longed to see his mother and siblings but the thought of coming face-to-face with his abusive father when he returns home discourages him from visit the family.

“I only want to see my mother and my brothers and sisters, so that if I die they will bury me while I have already seen them, and not my fatherwho forced me to run away from home,” he said.

His younger friend known as Doctor Jumasaid a friend lured him from his home inYiroltown of Lakes State to come to Juba with a promise of connecting the 11-year toa pastor and philanthropist who would pay for his school fees and live a better life in the city.

All Juma got in Juba was suffering; lack of food and no good place to sleep, and his dream of becoming a doctor one day had longvanished.

“I am Doctor Juma, 11 years old, I come from Yirol,” he said.  “I am here (in the street) because of my friend deceived and told me to leave my home and come to Juba.”

He told me that a pastor would come and to take me to school. I wanted to be a doctor so I came. My dream is to become a Doctor,” said regretting why he believed his deceptive friend.“All I want is to go to school and become a doctor someday. I will be glad if someone come and take me to school,” he wished.

Much older among the boys is Marko Madut who said he was recruited in the army at the age of 15 when war broke out in 2013. Madut was forced to see what children his age are not supposed to see.  He said he was sent to several frontlines to fight the war now described as ‘senseless” by the leaders who started.

Originally from TonjWarrap State, Madut now aged 24, quit the Tiger Division of the now South Sudan Defense Forces (SSPDF) join the streets when he lost most of his friends and colleagues to war.Madut said hunger was another cause of desertion the army.

“I became homeless because I was a child solider, I had joined Tiger division of South Sudan people defense forces (SSPDF) in my youngerage but I left it becausewhen we weresend tofrontline, I would see a lot of my colleague being killed every day, and at the same time no enough food for us.That is why I left Tonj and came to Juba here,” he said.

The boys live in a group and gather empty bottles and metal scraps and sell them to buy food or collect food wastes from garbage and restaurants’ rubbish bins.

“We areappealingto everyone outside there who are listening to our voices, we need a good shelter, clothes, education and better place to stay because some of us here are orphans our parents were killed during the war in 2013 and 2016 and we have no good places to stay in,” Madut plead.

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