Interview with Reverend Tut Mai Nguoth about peace development in South Sudan

Rev. Tut Mai Nguoth, Assistant Director of the Presbyterian Relief and Development Agency (PRDA) in South Sudan.

What are the consequences of the civil war in South Sudan?

The people had to flee. Agriculture lies fallow, also because of frequent floods. The only edible things people can still find are often only water lilies and grass. The school system has also completely collapsed. The war has even penetrated our traditions. Men who want to marry woo women nowadays by presenting them with their guns and ammunition. There is a culture of war. Many children play with guns. They know nothing but war. Girls as young as 10 are raped!

What does your development organization PRDA do?

We provide very concrete emergency aid in South Sudan and in the IDP camps in neighboring countries. We bring people rice, blankets and mosquito nets. We are also active in the areas of health, agriculture and education. It is particularly important for us that people from different ethnic backgrounds come together in our programs. After all, peace is built through understanding. For example, we are rebuilding schools. There, children who belong to ethnic groups that were enemies during the war now learn and play together. In this way, they realize that we are all the same. 

How did you personally experience the war?

In 2012, after graduating from university, I joyfully moved back to my hometown with all my belongings. I was looking forward to working there and living with my family. But everything was destroyed. During 15 years I collected books, they burned with the rest of my belongings. My wife and my six children have to live in Nairobi today. It is much too dangerous to return. 

Why don't you give up the dream of peace?

Even though the situation is fragile at the moment, I do not give up hope because: First, I firmly believe that God is with us. Secondly, we are neither the first nor the last country on earth to struggle for peace. Other countries have also succeeded and so will we! Thirdly, the root of the problem is only misunderstanding. We can dispel the hatred again. We can learn again to eat together, to talk together, to walk together. Fourth, I am encouraged by the support of our friends around the world. If we join forces, we can secure peace.

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