We will not forget the suffering in Bor

We will not forget the suffering in Bor

Reports of violence and death are becoming frequent news items from Bor, South Sudan’s devastated city. Stephanie Gidney reflects on her visit with MAF, and helps us remember those who have lost their lives – and could so easily be forgotten

I recently read a report of the atrocities in Bor, and quite literally broke down at my desk.

I visited Bor three years ago. From the air, the flat landscape stretches into the distance. For people fleeing violence, there is nowhere to hide.

At the hospital I met doctors like Mabior and Samuel who, like all South Sudanese people, have already endured so much. Yet they had given their lives to rebuild their homeland after years of conflict.

Electricity ends at 11pm. After that, emergencies must be handled by torchlight – including complicated childbirths. The doctors lack medicine, equipment and staff.

‘This is our country, and we will do something for it to go forward,’ Mabior told me.

‘I pray for peace for my country and that one day, it will be better,’ Samuel added.

The massacres of December 2013 included the murder of all 127 of Bor hospital’s patients. I will never know what happened to these two exceptional men. They are most likely among the dead.

From the hospital, I bumped along dirt roads to the Episcopal Church compound. Here I met Cannon Samuel, Rev James, Pastor John and women’s workers, Mary, Tabitha and Martha.

I was struck again by a deep love for the community. These people worked to proclaim the Word of God while supporting development through education, health and agricultural initiates – many of them volunteers. But lack of funds prevented any significant progress.

Mary, Tabitha and Martha told me about the poor health and lack of medicine. Countless young women miscarry or are barren, while many others, like Tabitha, have become blind.

‘I thank God because we are gathering here,’ she said when I sat down with her. ‘There are different colours, but one heart.’

I can’t help fearing that every one of these inspirational people has lost their life in recent months. But I wanted you to meet them here. To see their faces and know their names is your chance to remember a forgotten people – people who desperately need our prayers at this most difficult time.