This month South Sudan turns 5 years old. This birthday is monumental for a few reasons, one, because South Sudan is the youngest country in the world, and two, because for most of those 5 years, South Sudan has been involved in an awful war. Children who share the same birth year as South Sudan were born into peace, but sadly, they have no memory of it and today, their lives are drastically different than many 5 year olds you know. Five year olds like my own sweet Jemma.
Over 1/5 of South Sudan’s population have left their home country because of the war. That’s 2.3 million people. Refugees, as well as those left in the war torn country, are in desperate need of assistance. Especially women and children.
Last month a staff member from CARE, a global humanitarian organization that fights poverty by empowering women and girls, interviewed a handful of 5 year old South Sudanese girls in honor of the country’s birthday. I’ve read their stories and have been brought to tears. In these girls, girls like Zeieya, I see MY girl. Both 5 years old. Both smart. Both caring. Both vibrant and full of resilience.
But … Jemma reads books and plays LEGOS every day. She takes swimming lessons and her closet is full of dresses to wear. She has her own room and she can access clean water from every faucet in our air conditioned home. She pretends to be a princess most days and in comparison to Zeieya’s daily life, she practically is one.
Zeieya doesn’t have a home, let alone her own room. Her house was destroyed by the war when she was 3 years old. She has no toys, just a goat that she is in charge of caring for in hopes that it will one day provide milk for her family. On the off chance she has time to play, she pretends to make food from sorghum. Pretends to make food. Let that reality sink in. Children should NEVER have to make believe that they have enough food. The 100+ degree summer heat is torturous, but their is no AC, there isn’t even clean drinking water due to a lack of wells where she lives. Zeieya doesn’t go to school because her family needs her to spend her days collecting firewood to sell.
Jemma and Zeieya’s lives are completely opposite, like night and day. And stories like Zeieya’s ring true for thousands of children across South Sudan. The numbers are staggering – 680,000 children are malnourished, many get sick from drinking dirty water because dirty water is all they have. Lots of children work instead of going to school. Especially girls. In fact, the likelihood of a girl in South Sudan attending school is practically nonexistent. For Zeieya the future seems bleak, but we can intervene despite the distance.
It is my prayer that by the time Jemma and Zeieya turn 10, things will be very, very different in South Sudan.
That change starts today. You and I have the opportunity to partner with CARE so the children of South Sudan will have a brighter future. See how CARE can maximize your dollars. With a small financial donation we can provide clean water and much needed nourishment for South Sudanese children like Zeieya.
Take a moment and imagine a special 5 year old in your life. Maybe your own child. Maybe a niece or nephew or perhaps a neighborhood kid. Now, pause and compare their life with that of Zeieya’s or one of these sweet ones. It has never been easier to make a difference. CARE is doing amazing work* and I’m thrilled to be a small part of it — you can join in! Spread the word and skip today’s coffee in honor of South Sudan’s birthday and the 5 year olds across the world who deserve so much better.
* Quick little note about CARE … although today’s post is sponsored, I’ve done my due diligence to read up on this organization. 90% of all donations go directly to programs. That is an amazing stat for a nonprofit! I think CARE is rocking it when it comes to fulfilling their mission and love that their heart is to truly reach those in need.
Photos c/o CARE.org