“If you educate a man, you educate an individual.
If you educate a woman, you educate a family.”
I had the privilege of working with women and girls in Southern Sudan during the summer of 2010. During that time, I conducted lots of interviews which I later transcribed, wanting to hear more about their lives, about their hopes, dreams and concerns, and ultimately share them with folks at home. This was their gift to me. I now pass it on to you. [Note: Interviewee’s name has been changed.]
My name is Sofia. I don’t know how old I am. I have seven children and my oldest is married and has a child who is two years old, so that makes me a grandmother. My youngest child is 9 years old.
My husband has five wives and I am his second. He struggles to give enough to all his wives and children so I need to support my kids on my own and opened up this shop. It used to be a complete restaurant and not just a tea shop. But 8 months ago the items I used to supply the restaurant along with all my sorghum inventory were stolen. The thieves were never found so now I just have a tea shop.
I stayed in Southern Sudan during the war. I stayed in a village close by while the Arabs invaded, took our cows our goats and burned our houses and crops to the ground. We hid for 14 weeks though my family was not immune from the consequences. My second oldest daughter was captured by the Arabs. Another Sudanese woman, who herself had lost all her children in the war, was with my daughter and was able to care for her during the three months of her capture. My daughter came back to me and I was so happy.
Four of my children are in primary school levels 1,3,4 and 7. I want my children to continue their education. I myself never went to school.
A normal day for me includes waking up at 6am, bathing, checking in with my children to see if they need anything. They are old enough to help out with the chores like fetching water, sweeping, washing clothes and cooking, so I don’t have to do so much anymore. I open the shop at 7am close the shop at 6pm to go home. The only time I have off is early Sunday morning when I go to church and pray. Otherwise I’m at the shop 7 days a week.
I look forward to increasing business after the Referendum because, if it is peaceful, God willing, more people will return to this area especially from the North. If we can separate peacefully without fighting more children will be educated without the drastic interruptions and devastation war brings.