First Person

Strangers back home: Part I

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Oxfam colleague Caroline Gluck sent us this blog from Sudan.

Martha Bol and her children spent their first night back in southern Sudan sleeping outside in the cold. It wasn’t quite the homecoming she was expecting, but after spending the last two decades living on the outskirts of the northern city of Khartoum, she was excited to be back.

“I was born here and I will stay here,”she said. “This is our land and our chance to be free.”

Martha and several other families had camped out in the yard of a government building in Leer town. Their household belongings – all they could carry with them – were scattered around: a few mats, some blankets, a few pots and pans, suitcases. Recently laundered clothes hung on bamboo fences to dry in the afternoon sun.

The families were all originally born in the south but left during Sudan’s decades-long civil war, which finally ended in 2005 after claiming more than two million lives. Their journey back by boat, chartered by the Government of Southern Sudan,  took 11 days. They arrived too late  to register to vote in the landmark referendum in which the southern Sudanese will decide if they want to remain part of a united Sudan or secede and become the world’s newest nation.

The families are among tens of thousands of southerners who had been living in the north and who have returned to the south in the last few months. Thousands more are likely to follow. Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Google+