As Eid approaches, a young girl’s world changes dramatically when her family is forced to flee their home, embarking on a journey of survival and uncertainty across Sudan.
In anticipation of Eid, a young girl’s life took an unforeseen turn. As she prepared for the festive celebrations, events forced her and her family to leave their home and embark on an unplanned journey. Their paths diverged; her aunt travelled north to Dongola, her uncle went east to Port Sudan, while Aisha and her immediate family sought refuge in Kosti, located in the southern White Nile State of Sudan.
Before leaving, they buried their gold, valuables, and property deeds in a concealed pit in their home. Their furniture was collected in a single room, and the doors were securely sealed. Reflecting on that sad departure, Aisha shared, “Taking only the bare essentials and a few clothes, we said our tearful goodbyes to our neighbours who remained. It felt like stepping into the unknown.”
“Will we ever make it to the market safely?”
A simple 25-minute drive from Omdurman’s Ambada to the bustling market now held an air of trepidation. The journey lengthened by unforeseen events; encountering a military convoy near the Wad El Bashir bridge brought a chilling sight of casualties and destroyed vehicles. Aisha’s unease grew, wondering, “Will we ever make it to the market safely?”
Navigating challenges, Aisha and her family reached the packed market in Omdurman, where countless others sought routes to safety.
Paths Intersect and Diverge
At Omdurman’s transit point, Aisha reunited with a friend heading towards Wad Madani. Their parting was tearful, filled with hopes of meeting again.
Their bus meandered through alternate routes, avoiding conflict zones. Despite these detours, they were repeatedly intercepted by the Rapid Support Forces, causing frequent halts and fuel concerns.
Late into the night, they reached Al-Duwaym in the White Nile State, only to be halted once more due to curfew restrictions. “That night was spent outdoors. The women sheltered in the bus, while the men found places to rest,” Aisha remembered.
By the next evening, after several stops and challenges, they were warmly welcomed by relatives in Kosti, marking the end of a journey fraught with emotions ranging from fear and despair to hope.
New Beginnings Amidst Uncertainties
As conflict escalated, staying with relatives became unsustainable due to space constraints. Aisha’s family then sought refuge in a shelter centre, primarily schools and dormitories, supported by local initiatives.
Even as they settled, issues like inadequate facilities, hygiene concerns, and occasional wildlife intrusions posed daily challenges. Yet, Aisha mentioned, “Kind-hearted neighbours often invited us over, offering solace.”
“I thought we’d be back home in a week.”
Starting her day with chores, Aisha would later sit with others under tree canopies, a respite from the sweltering heat and cramped rooms. They’d share stories and hopes. “I thought we’d be back home in a week. But months on, with no positive news, my optimism wanes,” Aisha said.
She misses the life she once knew, her home, and her dispersed family. Communications with friends have dwindled.
As she grapples with the upheaval of war and an altered existence, like many, Aisha yearns for answers. When will they return to their homes? When will peace prevail?
These pressing questions remain, as Aisha awaits, much like the Eid she had once so eagerly anticipated.
This story was produced by Media in Cooperation and Transition (MiCT) and the North Africa Media Academy (NAMA), in collaboration with the Al Adwaa Media and Journalism Services Centre, and financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The views expressed in this publication do not represent the opinions of MiCT, NAMA, Al Adwaa, or BMZ.