James is our local partner in the village of Nyamlel, Sudan, where we have been building orphanages, wells, schools and a medical clinic through the organization Make Way Partners. He and his wife, Angelina, came to the states to spend Christmas with Kimberly and Milton Smith of Make Way Partners; this was James and Angelina’s first time out of Africa…
James and Angelina’s stories are common for Sudan. Angelina is only 20, but being from the oil-rich region of Abyei, her village has been burned and re-burned, attacked and re-attacked many times. From just a small girl she gathered wood to sell in the market to help her widowed mother survive. Then she lived in Khartoum for a year, always fearful of being raped or enslaved. James tells stories of being forced into the military as a young boy and toting around a gun nearly as big as he was. He tells about he and many other 12 and 13 year old boys being used as the ones to ‘take a hillside.’ The older soldiers would use the children as the ‘front line’. The thinking was that if they sent a large mass of children, they would be able to fire off enough rounds to take out sufficient Arabs for the ‘real soldiers’ to be able to win the battle.
After living your entire life in the bush of Sudan, you can only imagine how different America was for them. James and Angelina couldn’t help but keep repeating the phrase “So, this is America…” as they encountered things for the first time: taking a bath with running water, cooking food over a gas stove, a dishwasher.
There are stories told in Sudan about America. For the last few years, many have named their babies “Bush”, thinking that America was going to come in and save them from Islamic invasion. They’ve heard of our wealth, and therefore, power.
A major difference is the treatment of animals as pets here in America.
In Sudan, hyenas and wild dogs are the number one killer of children (aside from the mass genocide and slavery from the Janjaweed), especially the orphans sleeping out in the desert on their own. From January to October of 2006, our partners in Sudan lost 278 orphans; the number one cause of death was these wild dogs and hyenas. This certainly confirmed the need to build the orphanages we are building rather than just schools, churches and food programs.
Contrast this to the states. If you don’t have a dog yourself, odds are you have friends and family that do. Sitting at the dinner table, James and Angelina were asked, “What has most surprised you about America?”
Without hesitation, they both agreed, “The dogs. The dogs in America are like people. They speak your language. They hear what you say and they respond. You tell them to sit and they sit. You tell them “No” and they don’t do the thing they were going to do. You tell them to lay down and they do it. We never knew that you could communicate with animals, but yet in America, even the dogs are so intelligent that you can work it out. I tell you, it is amazing what Americans can do!”
Thanks to YOU and YOUR $7, we are able to get these orphans out of harms way in the desert, and into the New Life Orphanage. Thank you for continuing to give to these projects!