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Nyakuoth Kong Wal

My name is Nyakuoth Kong Wal.  I’m 19 years old.  I was born in Khartoum, Sudan.  I have passed through a lot with my sister, living without our parents. 

In 2012, when I was 10, my sister and I were brought to Juba by our uncle to study.  The war broke out and he was killed. When our uncle was killed by the Dinkas, our dreams were shattered and we had to struggle on our own way.  We weren’t able to pay for anything.  We never saw our parents again as there was not time to get back to them.  We don’t know if they’re alive or not.  

We went to UNIMiSS and we met a female relative. We stayed with her for 2 weeks then travelled to Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya with her and her family members.  We stayed in Kakuma with her for some months before we could be registered to live there by the UN.  She started maltreating us and we looked for a way to leave her home.  By that time, we were unregistered. In 2015, my big sister was forced into marrying an old man by this female relative.  We decided to leave Kakuma but we never had money so we went to a church to look for help and they all contributed for our transportation to Nairobi.  After we reached Nairobi, we had some money left for us to rent a ghetto room.

In 2017, we found some family friends in Nairobi.  We were separated and went to live with the two different families – I was registered in the UNHCR with one family and my sister was registered to the other.  However, after some months, I was told to leave my family and I went to stay with my sister’s family – but we were not allowed to stay in the same house.  So, we just decided to somewhere and look for a place together.  With our savings, we rented a room in the ghetto which cost $25 USD per month.  It was too much for us to pay so we went around people’s homes to wash their clothes for money.  We needed to pay our rent and survive.  

We later met a long time friend.  She asked us questions about our life in Kenya and after we told her everything she decided to help us out.  She helped us join modeling agencies and that is how we have been able to pay for our own things.

South Sudanese refugees experience many mental health issues.  Many have depression, PTSD and anxiety because of difficulties like imprisonment and injury during the war, hunger, destruction of their homes and lack of jobs.  People get triggered by memories of war.  There is drug use and suicide.  Women experience mental health issues because of domestic abuse, rape and forced marriage.  

I have a aunt who was force into marriage at the age of 12 to an old man in her village who was rich.  The man took her to his house and they started a new life living together.  The girl was depressed in the marriage.  She gave birth to two children, a girl and a boy.  It took her some years to accept the marriage.  Then the man started abusing her, torturing her.  She was so depressed by her situation, she decided to kill herself and leave the children with their wicked father.  Her daughter is now going through trauma and depression because she can’t accept her mother’s death.

I have had depression and anxiety, not eating and having trouble sleeping.  I felt this especially after my uncle was killed.  When I feel down, I talk to my sister.  She’s the only person I trust.  She advises me to focus and encourages me to have hope after everything we gave been going through all these years.  Talking about my feelings helps me to stay in good mental health.

My goal in life is to be happy.  If you know the art of being happy, you can make people around you happy as well.  Seeing my sister and I alive after so many years of being without parents, this is the most important thing that makes me happy daily.