-Morgan Barber, contributing writer
The “lost boys and girls” of Sudan is a foreign topic to some Mississippi College students as well as many Americans. A recent movie called The Good Lie staring Reese Witherspoon informs the ignorant about these thousands of lost children orphaned by war. They walked across three countries with many obstacles to escape the longest war in the history of Africa because they had hope for a better life in America. Mississippi College is home to one of these “lost girls”—Asunta Abur. Abur’s history, though hard for many to relate to, is ultimately a story that glorifies the Lord.
Abur became a “lost girl” due to longest civil war in Africa. The country of Sudan was colonized by the British and Egyptians. When the British left, the northern region of Sudan became the majority. North Sudan became an Arab Nation and expected South Sudan to abide by their laws. This caused conflict between the Arabs of North Sudan with the Christians and Animists of South Sudan. North Sudan ultimately gained the most power by killing Christian missionaries, burning villages, and killing the men while southern Sudanese people hid in the African Bush. Asunta is the daughter of Gen. Emanuel Abur Nhial, whom most Sudanese are extremely grateful for because he led the First Sudanese Civil War. Gen. Abur Nhial was a freedom fighter in the guerilla army, meaning he led the risen army of southern Sudanese people of the Bush and rebelled against North Sudan. Asunta’s father died in battle. Asunta is the niece of South Sudan’s current president Salve Kiir Mayardit and First Lady Mary Ayen Mayardit.
“My Aunt Mary begged my mother in the village to have another child, and she is the reason I am alive today,” said Abur. Abur is the great-granddaughter of Chief Giir Thiik, Chief of Apuk Dinka who is a well-respected leader worldwide.
Abur was born on Sept. 10, 1991, in a refugee camp in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian government lost their control due to the Ethiopian rebels who fought against themselves, and the Southern Sudanese people were forced to leave the camp. This is when the Southern Sudanese people wandered around, trying to find a place to live in peace. They gained the title of “The Lost Boys and Girls” of Sudan.
There was an enormous amount of lost boys and girls. In fact, there were over 20,000 children, mostly boys, who were lost. They walked across three countries in the order of Ethiopia, Sudan, and Kenya. The children dodged air bombs from Sudan’s government, sacrificed themselves to animals for the protection of their family, and experienced extreme hunger.
“I remember being carried in a basket full of little kids at age three,” says Abur. As they reached Kenya’s border, the United Nations was aware of their movement; therefore, Abur’s family stayed in the Kakuma refugee from when she was four to nine years old. Abur’s mom died of breast cancer in the camp when she was seven. Abur and her siblings became orphans and lived in the Kakuma refugee camp. Nancy, Abur’s oldest sister, applied for her family to be chosen for the United Nations resettlement program. Abur’s family was chosen and was sent to Jackson, Miss. Only 3,700 children were chosen to start a new life in America, and 89 of them were girls.
At age nine, Abur was separated from her siblings who survived—her two sisters Nancy and Regina and her brother Kuanyin. Abur was placed in foster care, and in two years, she lived in six homes. She was passed around through homes and schools. Abur adores her godmother, Rebecca Patton, and keeps in contact with her siblings. At 11, Abur learned how to read, and at the age of 13 that she began reading on her grade level. Abur was class president at Raymond High School and graduated in 2010. She has received an associate’s degree from Hinds Community College and is currently a junior at Mississippi College pursuing a degree in social work.
Abur is passionate about social work because of South Sudan and its people. “We are unvalued, uneducated, and oppressed,” said Abur. She wants to end child marriage and dowry and create social welfare organizations to not only help protect her people, but to help build self-esteem and to promote education.
Because women are not valued like men in South Sudan, Abur is an advocate for the females of South Sudan and created a product for the village girls that would meet their needs. The Lord gave her an idea, and she presented it to Professor Hunt of the Education Department. The idea that now has become a reality and is called “Pads for Sosa (South of Sudan) Project.” The pads are low income, reusable feminine hygiene products that women can use that do not harm their bodies or the environment. The Pads of Sosa Project’s ultimate goal is to promote education. When females are on their cycle, they must miss school because they are viewed as unclean. Sudanese people would go to the extent of saying if a woman is on her cycle and walks past a cow, the cow must be slaughtered. Asunta plans to visit her tribe Dinka Bahr El Ghazel in December of 2015 so females may receive these products.
Asunta fell in love with Christ on Aug. 12, 2009 and attends Greater Bethlehem Temple in Jackson.