“Let it not happen to others, what happened to us.”

A girl in South Sudan recounts the day her life changed forever and the long road ahead. 

Back to all stories | Posted on 15 March 22 in Children's stories

Alone in the morning sunshine, tending her goats, young Justine’s daydreams were punctured by voices screaming in terror as the cold rush of war blasted through her simple but happy life.

Confused and scared, she left her goats and ran home to find her mother and sister already gone. With government soldiers fast approaching, there was no time to waste. Justine says: “My neighbour took my hand and told me to run with them. She told me soldiers were shooting at us.

“We ran and ran and reached very far in the forest and stayed there for three days. There was a small river where we could fish and get drinking water.”

The soldiers persisted, closing in repeatedly, and each time Justine was forced to run deeper into the jungle, wondering if she would ever feel safe again.

By some miracle, Justine was reunited with her mother and sister amid their constant moving and they found a place so remote that they felt secure enough to try and rebuild the lives they had left behind. The family made a shelter from the natural resources around them, cleared paths by hand and managed to create a water source near their settlement.

Mary’s Meals’ partner, the Mary Help Association, helped to establish essential services near their new home, including a school where children could learn. Rows of benches lined up under trees covered in tarpaulins became a pillar of hope for families.

“In the beginning, we were hungry,” says Justine. “Then the Sisters arrived and opened a school. Now we have food in the school, and I am so happy to be there.

Open quote mark When I grow up, I do not want to fight. I want to become a teacher and tell the children fighting is not good. We were really tired of sleeping in the forest without proper food. Let it not happen to others, what happened to us. Close quote mark

Now the battle Justine’s family faces is one to rebuild the secure lives they had to leave behind. By serving Mary’s Meals, we are offering children in South Sudan a real alternative to a life of conflict by staying in school to learn and having a guaranteed meal each day.

Please help us to support the children of South Sudan. Together we can change a child’s tomorrow.