A Glimmer of Hope

March 14, 2013 • South Sudan

Struggling refugees receive life-saving care and comfort in Jesus’ Name at a camp where Samaritan's Purse is working in South Sudan

The Doro refugee camp in Bunj, South Sudan, has taken in more than 45,000 people who were driven from their homes in the Nuba Mountains in Sudan.

Government troops in Sudan have bombed and burned villages, killing thousands of unarmed civilians, including women and children, in an effort to force the non-Arab Nubans from their lands and seize control of disputed border regions.

GiveMany refugees traveled on foot in 110-degree heat for more than a week to reach the camp in Upper Nile state. Most were suffering from severe hunger and exhaustion when they arrived. Some wounded refugees and malnourished children didn’t survive the journey and were buried along the way.

When they arrive, they find a glimmer of hope. Samaritan’s Purse is in the camp, providing relief supplies and health care and letting them know that God has not forgotten them.

“This is a very dark time for people who have come here from the Nuba Mountains,” said David Phillips, the country director for Samaritan’s Purse in South Sudan. “Samaritan’s Purse has been honored to receive them and provide physical and spiritual aid, including emergency food, medical support, treatment for malnourished children, and safe drinking water.”

South Sudan Doro refugee campPeople have settled into the camp and tried to make it as much like home as possible. Small neighborhoods have been established, with shade-tree schools, churches, and a busy nutrition center where fragile children receive care and mothers learn basic health and hygiene practices.

More than 100 women recently lined up at the nutrition center to have their children examined and receive vitamin-enriched food supplements. The women were grateful for the special care their little ones received.

“We escaped with our children when the fighting started,” said Yadit, a mother who had two of her eight children with her. “My mother and father were left behind. I don’t know where they are. But I am thankful that my children are alive.”

Doro South Sudan Refugee ReliefCrowds of people gathered around the clinic under a massive baobab tree. True to the resilient nature of the Nuban people, they were quick to express their joy in rounds of impromptu group dances, accompanied by musicians with hand-made stringed instruments and drums.

“The work here is good,” a man named Mahmud said with a smile. “Thank you!”

Finding a Place for Worship

Nuban pastors have planted churches throughout the camp, where believers meet under the trees, sitting on benches made of rough-cut logs that have already been worn smooth by constant use. Believers at one Sudan Interior Church meet five days a week to hear Scripture, pray, and praise God for guiding them through troubled times.

Pastor Abraham Reham and his family fled to Doro when their village came under attack. It took them nine days to reach the camp.

“They bombed our homes and we ran, carrying our children,” he said. “We left everything behind.”

After reaching the safety of Doro, Pastor Reham began ministering to people in the camp, found other believers, and gathered a new congregation together. He and other pastors formed their own church network. They began working together to share the Gospel home to home, secure Bibles, and provide discipleship training for their congregations.

Late on a Sunday afternoon, a group of believers lingered at his church, singing hymns under the open sky. The Nuban dialect was unfamiliar to outsiders, but the melody was clear—“Amazing Grace.”

“Our hope is in Jesus Christ,” Pastor Reham said. “Pray for God to make a way for us to go back home again.”

A Doctor to Share Hope in God

Access to medical care is critical, not only for Doro refugees, but for people throughout the surrounding Maban county. Within walking distance of the camp, Samaritan’s Purse helped expand, equip, and staff Bunj Hospital, which now provides medical aid to more than 200,000 people in the county.

Dr. Atar South Sudan Bunj hospital 12101SD-C-002The hospital is under the direction of Dr. Evan Atar, a South Sudanese physician who fled from the town of Kurmuk when the town and its hospital came under attack by Sudan’s armed forces.

Dr. Atar came to Bunj and began treating patients at what was then noting more than an abandoned clinic. He gave Samaritan’s Purse a firsthand account of the great needs in Bunj and of the refugees who were pouring into the area.

“I believe God directed me to come this way, and then I saw the people,” Dr. Atar said. “Wounded, sick, and injured people are brought in all the time.”

Dr. Atar is the only full-time surgeon at the hospital and in all of Maban county. Physicians occasionally join him on short-term assignments, but Dr. Atar is on call 24 hours a day.

“There are cases that are sad, like when a baby dies,” he said. “But then I deliver three healthy babies and it gives me renewed energy and hope. I have complete confidence that God is involved in everything.”

Like all Samaritan’s Purse workers, Dr. Atar lives his faith and finds opportunities to share the Gospel.

“We do what we can, but God works in His own ways,” Dr. Atar said during his busy rounds at the hospital. “Pray for God to give me wisdom and strength. Often, the people have no hope, but we have hope in the Lord.”

Stand with South Sudan Samaritan's Purse
South Sudan Relief Samaritan’s Purse is providing emergency food and clean water for people in South Sudan who have been internally displaced by an ongoing conflict within the country, and we continue to provide emergency aid to refugees who have fled violence in the Nuba Mountains and other parts of Sudan. Additional projects include drilling wells to provide clean water, distributing food to fight hunger and malnutrition, providing medical care for the sick and suffering, and working through the local church to build up communities through education and biblical literacy.

South Sudan Relief 013954