Ajoneny used to live in Yei, South Sudan with her husband and five children. Together, they had a good life. She worked as a tailor and her husband was a businessman. She and her husband made sure to always have enough food to feed the entire family and her children would attend school each day.
But when conflict in South Sudan erupted, everything changed.
One night, after the fighting had started, attackers came to Ajoneny’s village and began slaughtering people in their homes. Ajoneny witnessed in horror her two brother-in-laws being killed. She herself was physically beaten.
“It was impossible to stay in South Sudan. I was feeling so stressed. My two brothers-in-law were slaughtered in front of me. I ran inside with the children and held onto them tightly. They started beating me. They even hit me with their guns.”
She was left with no choice but to flee with her children to Uganda. In the chaos there was no time to find her husband or to pack their belongings (including Ajoneny’s sewing machine) and they ran with only the clothes on their back.
Their journey was long. They travelled for 12 days by foot. “Sometimes we found houses to sleep in in the bush. Or we slept under big trees. If we found a church, we stayed there.” They would travel in groups. “The children were afraid at first on the journey but we joined many people travelling together for safety.”
Ajoneny found safety in Uganda. After being brought to a refugee reception center, she received help from UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. Following registration, UNHCR assigned Ajoneny and her family an Emergency Shelter Kit, as well as their own plot of land to build their temporary shelter.
She no longer feels scared and is finally able to sleep knowing that her family are safe. She worries about her husband however, and the neighbours and relatives they have left behind and fears that they will be killed in the on-going violence. “I don’t know where my husband is and I haven’t heard from him since that night.”
She wishes there was peace in South Sudan so they could go home.