I remember my first trip into the Nuba Mountains. The civil war was going on at the time, but one really had no signs of it from my vantage point in Yida refugee camp in South Sudan. That is, except the people streaming into the border camp by the 100s daily. It was 2012, and as we walked along deeply rutted muddy roads with our “humanitarian aid” supplies on our backs and slung across bicycles, motorbikes and ATVs, we saw many people fleeing the region we were desperately trying to reach. You see, the vehicle that was to bring us to Sudan was stuck in about 3 feet of muddy water, and the only way to go was on foot as our piecemeal supply train slogged along around or ahead of us.
The time of greatest need in Nuba Mountains is also the most difficult time to access it, the rainy season from late June to November. That was the time period God chose to bring us there to share His love, and the relatively little we brought as a material representation of it. In retrospect, it was a good start, though a humble beginning. Reflecting on this time in my life, I realize right now would be about the worst time in history to have to leave your home, almost all of your belongings, and be scattered across a vast landscape where roads are muddy and inaccessible, food in scarce, and violent groups of people are roaming about looking for victims. This reality has impacted many of our Nuba brothers and sisters at a time when the world is still reeling from its response to the COVID crisis, catastrophic natural disasters, and political upheaval.
On a recent call with one of the Coalition members, who recent returned from Nuba Mountains, we were struck by the magnitude of the problem concerning displaced people in Sudan. I was shocked to discover that in addition to about 100 families in Nuba, there were a total of 20K people forced to flee conflict in places like Dilling, Western Kadugli and Tolodi to name a few. This was in addition to many thousands impacted by rioting and aggression throughout the country.
Right now, GNAC is marshaling its network and team inside of Nuba to lend aid wherever possible. There are few organizations with a significant presence in the rugged and isolated Nuba Mountains of Sudan, and even fewer with the will to respond to what sometimes seems an endless stream of crises, one after another. This is the nature of some ministries in some places, but there is always hope.
Over the years we have seen great fruit from emergency relief efforts. Like the story of the boy throwing starfish back into the ocean that had washed up on the shore after a storm. A man came by and said to the boy, “Look, there are hundreds of these things all along this beach, what difference does it make?” The boy simply picked up a starfish and threw it back in the ocean and said, “It makes a difference to that one”.
We know we can’t help every Nuba IDP (Internally Displaced Person), and maybe we can’t make a difference to everyone suffering. But we can make a difference to some. So we continue our relief efforts and work alongside other organizations because it isn’t just one lone “boy” out there helping.
At the same time, GNAC is continuing its work in promoting literacy, because the future we hope and pray for needs people equipped to lead Nuba into a brighter future. Likewise, our peace and reconciliation radio program partnership with One Tribe and Voice of Peace Radio in Nuba Mountains is on track to begin in the fall. One of our bigger long-term goals is to promote training for sustainable agriculture and help build an export economy for the Nuba, as well as meet immediate needs for nutrition.
Though these are uncertain times, it is comforting to know our Foundation is sure and solid, it cannot be moved by current events, and we can trust in that as we forge ahead to help make Nuba a better, safer place for the next generation.