The story of Tuta Chudir and her family is a story that contains much tragedy – but stories like these are not uncommon at Kakuma Refugee Camp. This story and this family was brought to our attention, and through ODWEP’s Emergency Fund we have been able to help, but more help is needed.
Imagine that you are a teenage girl, the oldest of eight children, living with your father and mother in South Sudan – and war breaks out. Again. Your father is involved in the fighting. He is wounded, and hunted, so the entire family flees to relatives in neighboring Uganda. There, he dies. Tribal customs decree that his brother should inherit the wife and children, but the wife/mother is wary of life with her brother-in-law, for she is unhappy with his demands and plans. He steals one child, and she flees with the rest, ending up at Kakuma Refugee Camp.
Unfortunately, as happens with far too many unprotected women at the camp, the mother is raped. And then raped again. Her physical and emotional health deteriorated. One day, she goes on an errand to another part of the sprawling camp complex – and never returns. Three days later, her children learn that she is dead. No explanation is given. They are not permitted to see her body. The police come and tell the children that their mother is dead. The police take the children’s identification documents and leave. A friendly pastor intervenes, but he is not able to find out any more information. They are on their own. The eldest child, the 16-year-old daughter Tuta, assumes responsibility, as head of the family.
There is a windstorm. The flimsy shack where the family is living is battered. One wall of mud bricks collapses. The iron sheets on the roof blow off. Neighbors help recover the damaged roof, but the house is still missing a wall.
Pastor David Batemba came to ODWEP with the plight of these children. Using money from our Emergency Fund, we were able to hire camp residents to rebuild the home. We bought mats for the children to sleep on, so they would not be sleeping on the dirt. We bought a solar lamp for them to place on the roof during the day, so they would have electricity for light and cooking at night. The rations they received from the UN camp administration did not cover all their needs, and we helped them buy other basic life necessities.
But the needs are ongoing, and our funds are low. If the children are to attend school – a normal life routine essential to help bring stability to their lives — they will need money for books and school uniforms. Nothing can replace the loss of their mother, but we can try to help with friendship and material necessities. Please watch the video, and donate to ODWEP. If you wish, you may let us know that you want your donation to help the Chudir children.