Tag Archives: South Sudan independence

Lopez Lomong: "The fourth lap, help me God!"

In the third part of the Lopez Lomong series, Lopez shares his thoughts as he races at the 2007 NCAA 1500m championships. As he runs, Lopez reflects on the role that running has played throughout his life. Previously, running meant escaping rebel soldiers and the harsh realities of life within a refugee camp. As a student and athlete at Northern Arizona University, he dreams that running will be the key to a better life for the lost boys and the people of South Sudan.

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Lopez Lomong: September 11, the day I became an American

In the first installment of the Lopez Lomong series, we shared Lopez's terrifying experience of being ripped away from his parents by rebel soldiers at the age of 6. After his kidnapping, Lopez was taken to a camp where boys were forced to become rebel soldiers, killing other people, or dying themselves.

From there, a series of miracles occurred. Lopez was befriended by three older boys in the camp, who rescued him and fled the camp on foot at night. After running for three days and nights, the boys found themselves at a refugee camp in Kenya.

Lopez lived there for the next 10 years, dreaming of what else life might hold and growing closer to God each day. He prayed that one day he would be able to leave the refugee camp and find a new life. His prayers were answered when a family in the United States near Syracuse, New York, decided to adopt him as their own.

Part 2 of the series picks the story up after Lopez moved to the United States. It was only a short time that Lopez had been here when the 9/11 terrorist attacks occurred. As his new home was under attack, Lopez struggled to reconcile the haunting memories of wars and violence in Sudan with the expectations of new life and safety in America.

Read on to learn how this experience shaped him.

Lopez Lomong's childhood story of terror

Today's post is the first in a series that recounts the life story of Lopez Lomong, who will run with Team USA in the London 2012 Olympics, with dreams of bringing home a gold medal.

While his current life sounds like a dream come true, his childhood was more like a nightmare. Born in war-torn South Sudan, Lopez was kidnapped by rebel soldiers at the age of 6 with two foreseeable futures: being forced to kill as a child soldier, or being killed himself.

Part one of the series tells the story of this dark chapter of Lomong's life. Follow along as we hear from him on his abduction, being adopted into the United States, and the realization of his Olympic dreams through his new book, "Running For My Life."

Lopez Lomong: From Sudanese 'Lost Boy' to U.S. Olympian

Today's guest contributor, Lopez Lomong, will run with Team USA in the London 2012 Olympics at the end of the month. But behind his remarkable accomplishment is a turbulent -- and inspiring -- life story of danger, poverty, and ultimate redemption.

Now, this South Sudan native is partnering with World Vision to bring help and hope to children and families in his home country who continue to struggle one year after the celebration of its independence. Read the story of Lopez, and let us know your thoughts!

Mother's day thoughts: The gap between here and there

In honor of Mother’s Day, May 13, we asked bloggers to share their thoughts on motherhood -- and the importance of caring for children who have experienced the loss of a parent. Every day through Mother’s Day, we will feature a different blogger to remind us to appreciate mothers and care for those who are hurting. Today's post comes from Alise, who has previously contributed to the World Vision Blog during our 12 blogs of Christmas series.

In South Sudan, a connection between conflict and hunger

With more food on the planet than ever before, it's difficult to believe that people still go hungry every day. You might assume that natural disasters, drought, or a lack of access to necessary farming equipment are to blame for a lack of food. What may surprise you, though, is that conflict is a leading cause of hunger.

Currently, conflict between Sudan and South Sudan is causing food shortages affecting millions, leaving children most vulnerable. While it is easy to see the role that a natural disaster or drought plays in hunger, the connection between conflict and hunger can be complicated. To make this complex issue easier to understand, World Vision's James Addis outlines some key questions below.

Children targeted in attacks in South Sudan

Michael Arunga, a World Vision emergency communications advisor for Africa, is on assignment in South Sudan, which became the world's newest country last July after a referendum that established its independence from the rest of the country. In this report, he calls attention to a tragic situation that is taking shape as conflict continues.

South Sudan: Transformation, progress in the world's newest nation

Juba, the capital city of South Sudan, has changed. Even before my plane from Kenya touched down here yesterday, I could tell that the world’s newest nation is undergoing transformation. It is definitely not where it was this time last year.

Four days old: Many hopes, many challenges in new South Sudan

Chants of “Republic of South Sudan Oyee” will forever be etched in the minds of many South Sudanese as they reminisce over their independence -- today, only four days old.

An overflowing crowd of people, both young and old, showed up at the John Garang Memorial to mark the historic event on July 9. Tens of thousands of South Sudanese endured the blistering sun, all along energized, as they erupted into song and dance when the country became the world’s 193rd country and Africa’s 54th.

I saw men and women faint as the declaration was made. Others openly broke into tears as the new flag was hoisted.

Rich Stearns on Independence, God, and South Sudan

God wasn't the first thing on my mind on Monday, the Fourth of July. Truthfully, the only credit I can give myself is that I was thanking God for the three-day weekend.

It's not far-fetched to say that most Americans likely think of Independence Day as more of an outdoor show than an obvious reason to thank and honor God.

That's why articles like Rich Stearns' in the Huffington Post are kind of a divine challenge for me -- a reminder that peace and freedom are reasons to thank God, and that with Independence there is struggle, but also hope.

May South Sudan's first Independence Day be that of the latter. And may Rich's article challenge you as it has me.


The following is an excerpt from Rich Stearns' "Celebrating Independence and Honoring God -- Half a World Away" in the Huffington Post:

Last Monday, July 4, I was holding David, my 5-month-old grandson, and savoring his facial expressions as we watched his father grilling hamburgers, celebrating his first Independence Day.

In a few years, he will begin learning about courageous individuals who fought an oppressive government whose armies incited unspeakable violence for more than a decade. But the death and destruction that resulted could not suppress the freedom fighters' undying faith in democracy over tyranny, freedom over injustice. Their perseverance and faith demonstrated why ballots are stronger than bullets.

South Sudan: Countdown to independence [video]

You can almost feel the excitement in Juba from half a world way here in our office in the United States.  As I talk to our staff from South Sudan's capital city nearly every day, I hear it in their voice and the stories they tell me.  The city is on edge, eager for tomorrow's independence ceremony, colorful banners hang in the streets and people wear t-shirts emblazoned with the new country's flag. As the world watches and waits, I'll be watching and waiting too, praying for a safe transition and peace for the children of South Sudan.


South Sudan will become the world's newest country tomorrow, July 9. As the South Sudanese prepare for their grand celebration, children are voicing their hopes for the future -- that problems of the past can be put behind them.

“I would like to see a good education system in South Sudan after the independence to enable me and other children on the streets to continue with education,” said James, a young boy who lives on the streets in Warrap.

A new hope through independence

It’s a long journey from the backyard barbecues and fireworks of our own Fourth of July festivities to the Republic of South Sudan, a new country that will be born in just days from today on July 9. I’m willing to bet, though, that our traditional summer celebration will seem downright routine compared to the life-changing nature of South Sudan’s first birthday.

At first glance, it may seem as though future citizens of South Sudan don't have much to be grateful for or much to celebrate. They will be receiving the poorest corner of one of the poorest countries on earth -- a place beset by hunger, disease, and war. According to a 2007 government study (pdf), mothers in Southern Sudan are more likely to die in childbirth than anywhere else on earth. Another report indicated that more than half of the population lives below the poverty line.

So why do the Sudanese celebrate? Maybe they’re celebrating a fresh start. Maybe it’s that most South Sudanese long to write a new, unbloodied page in their history, to cultivate a renewed community and land for themselves and their children. Maybe it's the hope that, on this day, all the problems facing South Sudan will be put aside so that everyone can celebrate this moment to start a new future together. Frankly, that kind of hope leaves most of our Fourth of July celebrations in the shade.

The hope beyond what I saw in Sudan

Editor's note: Three weeks ago, we asked Collins, a World Vision communicator in Zambia, to write about his recent experience in Sudan, supporting World Vision's office there. His reply: "My experience in Sudan makes me feel as though I should write a book, because it is something I have never experienced in my life before. You have really asked for the blog at the right time." As South Sudan prepares to celebrate its independence as Africa's newest country on July 9, we continue to to offer assistance to this conflict-weary region.

Indelible memories of the suffering I saw in Darfur have followed me since the day I left Sudan for Zambia. My mind and heart are still attached to the people of Sudan, especially the children. I have seen suffering and poverty in Zambia and other places in Africa -- but not of the magnitude I saw when I visited Darfur’s camps for internally displaced people (IDPs).

All I used to hear were stories. I never used to think it was that bad -- until I saw the reality at Otash camp, near Nyala, the capital city of South Darfur, Sudan, where displaced families have migrated for safety.

South Sudan: Can independence bring a brighter future?

Editor's note: South Sudan, a region left devastated by decades of civil war, held a referendum last January in which voters decided to split from the northern part of the country and become an independent state.

Preparations are in full swing for festivities to mark the upcoming independence of South Sudan. The mood is upbeat. On July 9, some 30 heads of state will travel to Juba, the acting capital city, to witness the birth of this new country.

The history behind this event

The region's path to independence was preceded by 21 years of conflict between rebels in the South and the government based out of Khartoum, Sudan's capital city in the North. This created a massive humanitarian crisis, with large populations displaced and left without access to essentials.

Coming 'home' to uncertainty

When the president of Sudan, Omar Al Bashir, visited the South Sudanese city of Juba a few days ahead of the January 9 referendum, I was among the thousands who turned up to welcome him. Despite the scorching sun, I humbly joined my countrymen to welcome His Excellency the President. He reiterated that he would be the first to recognize...