I’ve often used the word resilient to describe the people I met in South Sudan. None of them are untouched by hardship in one form or another, but they seem to get up the next day and get on with it. I’m fortunate to have a rather sunny disposition, inherited from God knows where, so I don’t often feel sorry for myself. If I did, I’d be looking to the ordinary South Sudanese people, above any other, for the inspiration to pick myself up, dust myself down, and to start all over again.
Nyanbol Maker is one such inspiring person. Mother of three children, her husband was murdered while she was studying at Solidarity Teacher Training College. The community grief when we received the news was almost overwhelming, but so was the support that Nyanbol received. She went home to sort out her affairs, but decided to return to us some six months later to resume her studies to be a teacher.
That’s her in mourning clothes (above) between me and Josephine, and getting her hair done by Nyakandei (right). (For students of language, Nya means girl.) Having graduated, Nyanbol went back to her community, but not before asking me to help her to come to Australia. While pointing out the obstacles that the Australian government places in the way of such movement of people, I was also thinking that she would be a genuine asset to my country, as would so many of those I taught.
On the other hand, I saw my job as being to help give South Sudanese people the skills to be able to help themselves. We trained them to be teachers, but a large number of them end up elsewhere, because the organizational skills we gave them are in demand. Recently, we received news that Nyanbol has been appointed minister for local government and for law enforcement in the Ruweng administrative area in South Sudan.
She, and those willing and good people like her, are the future of their country.
From Sept. 13, 2022 Facebook post by Allan Drummond, a former volunteer tutor at Solidarity Teacher Training College. Reprinted with permission. Allan keeps in touch with his former students online.