The effects of war can be far-reaching and extremely devastating. Apart from the cost of war that is normally measured in money spent and lives lost, there are other aspects to keep in mind. Wars take livelihoods away, tear families apart and deny children the love of parents and opportunities in life.
Nowhere is this more evident than in South Sudan, a country that has experienced war for decades. The African country plunged into civil war almost immediately after seceding from the Sudan to become the newest country on the continent. It is as a result of this war that the story of two young girls, Achol and Abuk, started.
The civil strife forced the different members of the family to flee in different directions and seek refuge in different places. The two girls lost touch with their father, Mabior, and found their way to a camp for internally displaced people in the country.
At the camp, sixteen-year-old Achol would take care of her fourteen year old sister. They spent nights in leaking tents and were robbed of the chance they had at a good education. What kept them together was their love for each other and the knowledge that each of them had.
Humanitarian organizations such as the United Nations and other nonprofits provided internal refugees at the camp with food. The young girls were lucky enough to get food portions on most days. There were days when there was barely enough food for everyone at the camp. This forced the humanitarian workers to distribute the food to mothers with younger children.
Life would soon become more difficult in the camp where Achol and Abuk sought refuge. More internal refugees trooped into the camp, leading to deplorable conditions and poor sanitation.
One day, a group of well-wishers visited the camp in search of bright but needy girls. They identified Achol and Abuk and offered to sponsor the young, bright girls through their education.
Chance at education
With the chance to complete their education and join university, the stars of both girls would soon shine bright. Achol and Abuk got all the financial assistance they needed and prepared to leave the war-torn country for a land with a greater promise.
The well-wishers worked with the nonprofits in charge of the refugee camp to prepare the documents that the girls needed to travel abroad. After a few weeks, Achol and Abuk left South Sudan for the United States.
Taken in by family
In the United States, the two sisters were taken in by a family that provided them with the love and warmth they had lived without for so long. Although they had a new family, they did not forget their loved ones that they had left behind.
Achol and Abuk completed their high school education in the United States and were accepted to University.
Search for dad
Meanwhile, Mabior remained in South Sudan. He lived in a different refugee camp and continuously looked for his family. His two daughters also tried to search for him from their new home abroad.
Make contact with organizations
During their time in university, the two girls would make contact with the organizations that gave them the opportunities they enjoyed. The nonprofits dedicated time and effort to finding their dad back in South Sudan.
Found in camp
After months of trying to locate Mabior, the organizations were successful. By this time, the two girls had not found their mother or any of their siblings. However, finding their dad was reason enough to be happy.
Told of daughters
Mabior was told of his daughters in the United States and how well they were doing in their studies. Mabior shed tears of joy on receiving the good news. He requested to be reunited with his daughters in their newfound home.
It was quite difficult for Mabior to find the travel documents that he needed. The authorities were not convinced why he had to travel to the United States.
With the help of the nonprofits that found him, long months would pave way for his travel to the United States. Mabior was full of joy on learning that he would travel, with his two daughters sharing his joy in a country located miles away.
Trip to airport
Mabior’s trip to the airport was a time of reflection, providing an opportunity to think about the difficult times. He still thought about how his wife and other children, wondering if they were safe and questioning where they were.
Arrival at airport
Achol and Abuk felt the same palpable joy when they went to the airport, arriving hours before their dad landed. They waited anxiously for their father, watching as other travelers arrived at the airport.
Mabior made his way towards his now big daughters a few minutes after the plane landed. Before he reached where his daughters and the family that had taken them in were, he was overwhelmed and went on his knees. Other strangers watched in amazement as a father and his two daughters were about to be reunited.
Hugs, kisses, tears
Achol and Abuk ran towards their father and hugged him tightly. Emotions flowed freely at the waiting area. A father and his two daughters kissed each other and tears ran down their cheeks.
Learns of progress
Mabior wanted to know the progress his daughters had recorded in their education. On the other hand, Achol and Abuk sought to find out whether their dad had located their mother and other siblings. Unfortunately, Mabior had not located them by the time he was leaving South Sudan.
As the two girls went home in the embrace of their father, the three were determined to continue fighting to reunite with other members of their family. Representatives of the organizations also assured them that efforts to locate them were underway.
Although the three were not aware of the whereabouts of part of their family, the reunion provided hope that they would be reunited. “Hope is all we need to sustain our efforts to locate them,” said Achol, a third year student of medicine.
It was a sight to behold when father and daughters were reunited, promising each other never to drift apart again.