This Girl Is Determined to Become the First Female Doctor in Her Village

ADRA is helping to give South Sudan’s Nyaluak and others a new hope.

Inter-European Division News and ADRA Europe
This Girl Is Determined to Become the First Female Doctor in Her Village
Nyaluak, 13, of South Sudan has a goal of becoming her village’s first female doctor. ADRA is supporting her and others to try to help make their dreams come true. [Photo: Adventist Development and Relief Agency]

The area of Maiwut has been strongly affected in recent years by the civil war in South Sudan. Many people have had to flee, including Nyaluak and the rest of her family.

Nyaluak says that her family did not have time to pack anything but suddenly had to escape into the bush and eventually went over to Ethiopia, a neighboring country. They lived in cramped and poor conditions in a refugee camp for two years before finally returning to a completely destroyed home. Nyaluak herself dreams of becoming the district’s first female doctor.

I hope to be able to finish school so that I can follow my dream of becoming a doctor,” she tells ADRA.

After the civil war at the beginning of 2020, things looked promising. For her to reach her goal, Nyaluak would be challenged by many obstacles. The school system in South Sudan has a shortage of equipment and teachers without education. Nor is it something that is prioritized by parents, especially not for their daughters. Many girls are married off at a young age and never get an education.

Gry Haugen from ADRA visited Maiwut in the state of Upper Nile in South Sudan in February 2020. The country is one of the poorest in the world and has been hit for years by a civil war that has sent parts of the population on the run across borders. One of those who made the biggest impression on Haugen was 13-year-old Nyaluak, who once again has had to put her dream on hold.

“Nyaluak’s sister was married off when she was 15 years old, and Nyaluak is very worried that the same thing will happen to her,” Gry says.

Ensuring Girls’ Education

When the school in Maiwut reopened after the war in autumn 2019, things looked brighter than they had for a long time. But then COVID-19 crossed the border into South Sudan and changed lives again.

“What a disappointment. We can complain here where we live, but Nyaluak! The schools had to close again, and the children are once again prevented from continuing with their education. I have thought a lot about Nyaluak and her dream afterward; I know so well how much she wants this. You are somehow not allowed to take the dreams and hopes away from children and teenagers,” the ADRA worker says.

“I think with concern about all the girls who will never return to school again, because they will be married off or placed with the domestic tasks. At the same time, I think it’s not hopeless for Nyaluak. ADRA works very actively to ensure that girls also receive an education, as soon as the schools in South Sudan reopen, and ADRA also provides some teaching in smaller groups,” Haugen affirmed.

ADRA believes that every child, everywhere, has the right to go to school. There is an urgent need for education for children in South Sudan. ADRA works in cooperation with communities to provide teacher education, school materials, hygiene teaching, sanitary napkins for girls, and psychosocial work.

“The work of ADRA is especially important in areas such as this one in South Sudan, where there are not many other organizations on the ground,” Gry says. “Natural disasters, civil war, and pandemics hit hardest on those living in extreme poverty and those without education.” 

She adds, “The corona crisis came on top of a number of other challenges in South Sudan. Now we will work to improve educational conditions and provide training in infection control so that Nyaluak and other children in her situation will receive an education and an opportunity for a better life.”

The original version of this story was posted on the Inter-European Division news site.

Inter-European Division News and ADRA Europe