The Widow's Hope: Discovering Healing and New Life in War-Torn South Sudan

Hope for women in South Sudan

In a remote village in the northern part of South Sudan, Angelina shares her story of sorrow and pain.

 At forty-two years of age, she has experienced great grief. Today her heart has found reason to hope.

"My husband died and left me with two children. My parents all died during the war."

Amidst war, Angelina lost her home. She lost her sense of security and her family's livelihood. She also lost countless relatives.

A mother and her children pound millet in South Sudan

The war for independence has left many scars across the landscape of Warrap. Empty bullet shells and abandoned tanks can still be seen on the journey to Tonj.

Hope for mothers in South Sudan

South Sudan gained its independence in 2011, but peace remains elusive in many parts of the country today.

Angelina bears the marks of war in her own body. When the rebels came to her village, there was nowhere to hide.

"The rebels cut off my leg", she says.

The nearest hospital is hours away, but somehow Angelina survived. Her children witnessed the attack and were allowed to live.

Angelina's bleeding stopped but her pain endured.

"I lost hope", she says.

Where can a crippled widow turn in such desperate times? Without her husband and parents, Angelina had no support. She felt entirely alone, overwhelmed and defeated by the cruelty of her circumstances. Her mourning knew no end.

Angelina's injury was a constant reminder of her helplessness. How could she provide for her children? She had no savings. She could no longer walk. She could no longer work. Did God know her suffering?

In the aftermath of the attack, women from the church came. Many of them had also lost loved ones. Some were older. They knew that shared grief is easier to bear and that the wounds of war can be bound up over time. These women encouraged Angelina that God still loved her and that He would care for her children. The women also presented Angelina with an unusual invitation: they offered her an opportunity to go to school.

Community savings group in South Sudan

"I had never been to school before", Angelina says.

Like most women in South Sudan, Angelina never had the chance to attend school. She grew up fetching water and firewood, helping her family cook and plowing their small plot of land. She never learned to read and write and she didn't think that she ever would.

The church had recently started a literacy program and was offering classes to women. With the encouragement of her friends, Angelina decided to enroll.

One year later, Angelina has a certificate in Literacy and Numeracy and counts herself as blessed.

"Now I can manage to read my Bible in [the] local dialect, count money, write my names, and read the sign posts. . ."

Angelina has been reading her Bible a lot, and she's been sharing everything she learns. Through the Mother's Union ministry she's joined a savings group and she is planning a brighter future for her children.

"I can teach my children at home and I am very happy because of the certificate I got. It encourages my children to go to school. . ."

Today, both of Angelina's children are in school. Angelina walks with a crutch and with some difficulty but there is confidence in her step. In a community where few women are literate, she says that the training she received "has caused me to be a leader in church. I acquired knowledge and leadership because of literacy."

Angelina is now an evangelist in the Diocese of Wau. She travels throughout the villages and towns in the north of South Sudan encouraging people with the message of Jesus. She tells them that God understands their pain. She tells them that there is hope.

Learn more about The Journey of Hope.