Mary Abuk Dau was a child in Africa, when civil war flared in 1991. She walked for years seeking safety, finally receiving Lutheran support in a Kenyan refugee camp.
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Mary Abuk Dau saw people killed when she was just 10. Growing up in what is now South Sudan, with civil war sweeping the country, Mary believes God saved her life. Thanks to help from Lutheran aid partnerships, she now has hope – despite her country again being in crisis.
‘The soldiers came and killed some people while I was looking’, Mary says. ‘Some of my relatives were killed. It is only to God that we are saved.’
Her elder siblings left for Ethiopia, while Mary stayed with the younger children. When the conflict worsened, they too set out on foot. People died of disease and hunger.
‘We were on foot for four years’, she says. ‘There was no food for us to survive. If a child got tired they must be left behind, and they die[d]. But even though we had nothing, we knew God was there.’
They reached Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya in 1995. It was there Mary learnt about Lutheran World Federation (LWF), a partner of Australian Lutheran World Service (ALWS).
‘They were the ones who supported education’, she says. Mary became a Peace-building Officer with LWF during the 12 years she was at Kakuma. She returned to Sudan in 2007.
‘Changes are now coming because we have education’, Mary says. ‘Now we see girls going to school. Life is different now. The reason I went to work for LWF is because of the education they gave me at Kakuma. I want to give this same education to my community.’
Mary is married with two daughters, Angok, 6, and Abul, 1, and says she sees a good future for her daughters due to education.
Despite the hope that Mary has for the future in South Sudan, people there remain in desperate need of aid and assistance. Famine was declared earlier this year, with war, drought and economic crisis leaving 4.9 million people in urgent need and 100,000 people facing starvation and death.
ALWS has launched an emergency appeal to support LWF’s work in South Sudan.
Donate at alws.org.au or on FREECALL 1300 763 407. ALWS has also launched Walk My Way, a campaign to fund schooling for refugee children. To be held on 4 July, the 26 kilometre walk from Hahndorf to Beaumont in SA follows in steps of Lutheran pioneer women.
Go to walkmyway.org.au for more information.
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