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"I realised I was not alone"

"I realised I was not alone"

EMERGENCY


Supporting women and girls in South Sudan

southsudan_media

It started with a small sip of traditional alcohol to help her sleep at night.

After losing her husband and her two eldest children to the vicious conflict in South Sudan, Nyareth* was left all alone to provide food for herself and her remaining four children.

“Many days went by when I didn’t have a single meal,” she recalls.

Then her son, just 16 years old, was forced to join the militia.

“I was heartbroken. I started drinking some traditional alcohol every night before bed to ease the pain. Then I got used to it, and I started drinking more and more.

“I was acting like a mad woman.”

Unfortunately, Nyareth’s story is not unusual.

Today more than three million people are displaced in South Sudan, where there is widespread insecurity and frequent outbreaks of violence. The constant eruption of conflicts has forced people out of their homes, separating families and exposing women and girls to sexual violence. Many have lost their families and their support networks.

Nyareth is one of many who have taken to drinking to help her cope with the trauma.

International Medical Corps, with support from UK aid, is operating centres where women and girls can meet in a safe space to engage in skill building activities and interactions that promote their psychological healing. In the last year alone, almost 30,000 women have benefited from this initiative.

“Someone encouraged me to try one of the weekly sessions at the centres,” Nyareth says.

“There I was accepted by the other women. I heard other women share their stories and I realised I was not alone.”

Nyareth was invited to join the other women to get fire wool to sell. From the money she earned, she could buy food for herself and her children.

“Gradually I stopped drinking alcohol. I found comfort in coming to the centre instead.

“Today people do not believe their eyes that the drunken mad woman is now a sober beautiful woman.”

*Names have been changed on the request of those featured in this case study.

Gradually I stopped drinking alcohol. I found comfort in coming to the centre instead.

Today people do not believe their eyes that the drunken mad woman is now a sober beautiful woman.

*Names have been changed on the request of those featured in this case study.


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