Pricilla has lived in Rhino Refugee Settlement for 2 years. For the second time in her life, she finds herself as a refugee in Uganda. But her story begins long before she arrived in Uganda, even before she arrived in Sudan.
I met Pricilla in January at a soap-making training we led in her zone in Rhino Camp. She was a sharp older woman with a spunky personality. She really cared for the other women, translating our English teaching into various local languages. I quickly realized this was a lady I wanted to know better! She was visiting a neighbor the day we came to see her. As we walked back to her home, we talked about life in the camp: the heat (it was reaching the middle of dry season), the lack of water (the water sources had been dry for 3 days the prior week), and how the equator sun was brutal (although she and her son didn’t seem to break a sweat). As we sat down beneath her biggest tree in her nicest chairs, we soon realized there was even more to Pricilla’s life than we could’ve imagined.
“I’m a Liberian. That is my home. I am from Liberia.” Pricilla is Sudanese by marriage, not birth. When she was young, she worked in Monrovia, the capital city of Liberia, as a typist clerk. One day, the man who would become her husband stopped by her place of employment. He was a university student who had traveled from Sudan to Liberia to further his education. 2 years later, the couple was married. They stayed in Liberia until her husband took a job with the United Nations (UN) and their lives quickly changed.
His first assignment was in Papua New Guinea. The couple packed up and went to live there for 2 years. After Papua New Guinea, they moved to Mumbai, followed by Singapore, and then Bangladesh. They lived in each location for about 2 years. Pricilla loved living abroad while her husband worked for the UN. She had 4 friends — from Fiji, the Samoan Islands, Vienna, Tonga — who moved from country to country together. They often visited together and helped each other with the children.
After their time in Bangladesh, the couple, now with 2 children, decided to move to Sudan, where her husband took a job with the Department of Agriculture. They lived in Yei, one of the major cities in what is now South Sudan, on a compound with Americans, Brits, and Germans. While they were there, the couple was blessed with their third child. But their time there was cut short by war. In 1993, the family was forced to flee to Uganda.
For 21 years, Pricilla and her family lived in Uganda, waiting for the war to end. Finally, they were able to return to Sudan. “I went back to Sudan. Things were a bit hard. We were starting a new life again. It was not easy for us.” All too soon, tragedy struck. Just 2 years after returning to Sudan, Pricilla’s husband passed away. She was now a widow with 4 children. Even now, 13 years after his death, I could still hear the pain in her voice as she talked about his passing.
Pricilla lived in Sudan with her children for a decade until war once again forced her to flee. She spoke with great sorrow about the war in Sudan. “Day and night you don’t sleep. The shooters are moving around, beating on people’s doors. And if you don’t open the door, they kick it in! They enter and they just put people out.” However, leaving Sudan was not easy either. “Leaving there was another problem” This time, she did not have her husband with her to help her escape the fighting, and she did not have access to a car. “I came with my daughter there. She’s disabled. I had to push her in a wheelchair, through the bush. It was terrible.” Eventually, they were able to catch a ride on a lorry — an open air 18-wheeler filled beyond capacity with people and sometimes cattle.
When we asked Pricilla about her life in the camps, she talked about how all there is to do is fetch water, cook, and clean; you could tell she took pride in keeping her home clean because she kept the dry, dusty ground around her home well swept. But we soon learned that she found a unique way to spend the rest of her time. You see, she was not just visiting a friend prior to our visit; she was sharing the gospel. When we asked her about it she said she often takes her Bible and visits this woman, as well as other women in her area. We quickly realized this is a common occurrence. “Because sitting alone is boring. Very boring… So when I get tired of sitting alone, I just go [to other homes]. Take my Bible. Then I share with them.”
Many refugees hope for the day they will be able to return to their homes, but Pricilla has a different perspective. She has no desire to return to Sudan. This is partly due to the fact that she is not Sudanese; Sudan is her husband’s country, not hers. But the main reason is that she fears that war could break out again, and traveling with her disabled daughter is too difficult. She said, “Because she doesn’t walk, she doesn’t talk. Now, when I think of her problems, it makes me not want to go back to Sudan.”
Pricilla’s Prayer Requests:
- Pray for a permanent place to live. She knows one day the Sudanese refugees may return home, and she can’t stay in the camp alone.
- Pray for her daughter, Maybelline, who is sick and disabled.
- Pray for a wheelchair that her daughter can peddle with her hands because her old wheelchair is now too small for her and not very functional.