Sonshine Global Partners has worked in Kajo -Keji County in South Sudan since 2008 conducting medical mission trips. The name Kajo-Keji is the name of the KuKu chief who was in power during the British rule in Sudan. This county is in the southernmost part of the South Sudan near the Uganda border district of Moyo. It is an area of almost 112,600 km2.
During the British rule Southern Sudan was divided into zones which were entrusted to the different Christian denominations. The area of Kajo-Keji was evangelized by the protestant church.
During the years of the war between North and South Sudan (1983-2005) there were only a few people living in the area. The war lasted 21 years. The local population was forced to move into refugee camps.
When the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed in 2005 the people began returning to their homeland. They began farming to meet their basic needs. By 2010 more than half of the population in diaspora had returned.
In 2008 Sonshine Global Partners commissioned an assessment by the School of Agriculture at Gulu University to see what it would take to bring food security to Kajo-Keji. This assessment was completed in 2009.
We travelled by road from Uganda taking food and medical supplies to South Sudan. The team members slept in huts in the town and we would travel by bus each day to conduct clinics in rural communities. Sometimes it would take us two hours to reach the community. People would walk days to get to the location where the clinic was being held. We would see hundreds of patients each day.
In addition, we brought clinical psychologists to conduct trauma workshops with the teachers and community leaders. The impact of war trauma on the residents of Kajo-Keji has been devastating. There are high levels of trauma and trauma associated mental disorders.
South Sudan’s war started in 2013 as a fight between the army of President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, and his former vice president Riek Machar, a Nuer. This war has split the country along ethnic lines. The war has spread south to the southern Equatoria region where Equatorian rebels have joined Machar against Kiir’s army.
For most of 2017, government forces controlled parts of Kajo Keji’s east, while Machar’s group (called the SPLA-IO) held the west. In October 2017 a new rebel group, calling itself the National Salvation Front, entered Kajo Keji and captured the SPLA-IO’s administrative headquarters in Sokare.
The current conflict in South Sudan has resulted in high levels of displacement. Statistics from the UN refugee agency UNHCR show that by January of 2018 about four million citizens have been displaced or forced to flee their home. Uganda is currently hosting more than one million of these refugees.
Sonshine Global Partners has connected with the community leaders from Kajo-Kaji who have become refugees in northern Uganda. We have developed a training program that targets the youth from South Sudan. Our goal for 2018 is to provide agricultural training to 800 young people.