The Journey To and Out Of Pibor – The South Sudan Crisis

Kissito South SudanThe day started as usual on Friday December 13, 2013 after a week-long SAM and MAM training in Bor-The capital town of Jonglei state. There was a lot of excitement from every member of the team as one could easily notice it with wide smiles and early packing of our baggage. Personally I (Herbert Mayemba-CMAM NURSE) was full of joy as it was my first field assignment just after college and off to Pibor that Friday morning.
As we landed in Pibor that same day, one could be welcomed by the hostile hot climate and the community was eagerly asking my colleagues if we were going to supply them with nutrition items. We indeed didn’t even spend a minute in our compound and set off to our under the tree distribution centre.
I was humbled to be part of the team that day as I truly witnessed the suffering of the people. One could easily notice that people are facing all sorts of problems ranging from psychological, social and economic. Starvation is smelt on almost every individual you talk to, but especially pregnant women and children below 5 years.
At the end of the day, we managed to distribute two weeks plumpy nut and plumpy sup to the OTP and TSFP clients respectfully. The weekend was fast approaching but we were prepared as well to give suppliers that would take them through seasonal celebrations till the December 19, 2013.
Unfortunately war broke out on December 15, 2013 in Juba and spread rapidly to other towns in S. Sudan. As for Pibor specifically, the tension was high too and actually one security officer with UNMISS briefed us about the status quo on December 16, 2013 at 10AM. In the security meeting we were advised not go out of the compound and also informed that incase the security worsens, we should transfer to the UNMISS compound.
On the Tuesday 17, 2013 the situation seemed calm during day time but things turned worse at around 9PM as shooting broke out from the back yard of our compound. One would see bullets flying at the knee level and we had to crawl on our bellies for our dear lives. We had to jump over UNMISS compound fence as the entrance was far and so open that enemy could easily see us.
As we waited for the situation to get to normal, the status quo seemingly became unpredictable and life became very hard. There were no flights to evacuate us, markets closed, the communication was down and the cost leaving sky rocketed. Actually at one moment our colleague claimed that he had friends within the rebel ranks and told him that they will give us passage out of the war zone.
After so many days of struggling, communication was restored and I communicated to the Juba KHI office and HQ through Ms Bell Jennifer we were finally evacuated on the Friday 20, 2013.
Generally life was so hard to copy up with but there are no regrets at all as those people in the community needed our presence the more and I am ( Herbert Mayemba) willing to take risks just to give them hope.