The African proverb ‘when elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers,’ is one that Victoria Loki, a mother of five in South Sudan understands only too well.

Thousands of South Sudanese are caught in the crossfire of a struggle between two powerful political leaders, President Salva Kiir, and his former Vice-President, Riek Machar. Roughly 10,000 have been killed and 1.3 million have fled their homes.

“I don’t know why they are fighting,” says Victoria. “I don’t understand politics. I only know that it is destroying our lives.”

Victoria and her family were living in Unity State when the war began. Rebels attacked their home in December 2013 and Victoria took her children and fled.

They ran down the river, hoping to find a boat or some way of making it to safety. But the river was crowded and dark. People were panicking as they ran for their lives, the water rushing around them and gunfire close behind.

It was all Victoria could do to shepherd her children across the water. She held on tight to her youngest, a baby boy, but the current was too strong. She felt him slip out of her grasp and then he was gone—washed away by the current.

The violence that led to the death of Victoria’s son is nothing new in South Sudan, where political power is closely associated with armed militias. Peace is a process that will take time. But for 7.8 million people facing hunger in South Sudan, help can’t come soon enough.

As Victoria says, “We’re just mothers who are bearing and caring for our children.”

Learn more about the conflict situation in South Sudan and how its impacting families like Victoria’s.

Presbyterian World Service & Development is working with members of Canadian Foodgrains Bank to provide food to people until it is safe for them to go home.

Respond With Us

Join us in responding to the terrifying human suffering caused by violent conflict.

Your gifts will help women and children facing hunger, displacement and unthinkable trauma. You can make a donation through your church offering, by mailing a cheque to the PWS&D office, calling us at 1-800-619-7301 ext. 291 or clicking the donate button. Please mark your donation “South Sudan.”

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Story and photo by Amanda Thorsteinsson, appearing in the fall 2014 issue of Canadian Foodgrains Bank’s Breaking Bread newsletter.