At the age of 10, James went to school for the first time. He was ecstatic. He had no idea that in less than three months he would be fleeing for his life from his home in South Sudan, across the border to Uganda.
In January of 2014, tribal war erupted in his volatile home state of Jonglei. Undeterred and unwilling to abandon his education, James continued going to school.
When the conflict reached his village, his walk along the heavily patrolled roads was no longer safe, and his schooling abruptly came to an end. A few days later, his father left to join the fighting. He never returned.
James’ mother was a woman alone with three children, so she was vulnerable to those who would take advantage of her. Soon after the disappearance of James’ father, a gang of young soldiers broke into his house and shot his mother through the pelvis. She screamed for the children to run, and in the confusion, James lost sight of his 12-year-old brother and 8-year-old sister.
He ran into the jungle beyond his house and continued south toward safety, toward the border of Uganda nearly 200 miles away.
At the border, many days later, a truck stopped for the ragged and thin child stumbling down the road. The driver took him to Boroli, a new refugee resettlement area in the town of Adjumani in Northern Uganda. There James was identified as a child fleeing conflict in South Sudan and one of 12,708 boys between the ages of 5 and 11, the camp’s largest demographic.
As James began wandering alone through the camp of more than 90,000 people, he heard someone yell his name. He turned to find his older brother running toward him, arms outstretched. He too had escaped the house, though neither knew what became of their mother and sister. Reunited, the brothers found a place to sleep beneath the branches of a tree.
The same week that James arrived, ADRA began working in the new camp. With the rainy season fast approaching, ADRA distributed vital supplies to help the refugees survive the long, wet months ahead. James and his brother were among thousands of homeless refugees who received sleeping mats, blankets, and tarps. Hours later, the heavy rains began.
After days of wandering alone through the jungle, James and his brother had a safe and dry place to sleep together.
ADRA works hard to provide refugees with items essential to survival. Whether it is through water and food in drought-prone regions or blankets and tarps in rainy ones, ADRA is there to bring relief.