The second episode of the Bidi Bidi Podcast brings us deeper into one of the world’s largest refugee resettlements through the experiences of women who escaped the horror of the South Sudanese civil war only to found a restless, tenuous safe haven in Uganda. We hear the stories of Mary Night and Betty Ede, who managed to evade capture and escape south across the border when violence swept through their villages.
Host Richard Akim guides us through a world of human insecurity to understand how a political gamesmanship between South Sudanese President Salva Kiir’s and Vice President Riek Machar devolved into ethnic factionalism, civil war and genocide, forcing more than two million people to flee the world’s youngest nation-state toward uncertain futures in Sudan, Ethiopia and Uganda. A mass exodus that Akim describes as “a sea of humans and emotions escaping the madness and bloodshed”.
Finally, we hear from Kemish Likambo, an ex-soldier who was recruited by friends to take up arms and join a rebel group in South Sudan. We are given an inside look into life as a guerrilla soldier––the horrors perpetuated, the moral dilemmas and life-and-death decisions faced – on the front lines. A violent existence escaped in lieu of the possibility of peace and redemption across the border.
Rise Up & Talk, Episode II
Mary Night, 27, is a South Sudanese student from Yei County, Central Equatoria State. Mary was in boarding school when civil war broke out in 2016. Separated from her family in an instant, she ran in fear––fleeing in multiple directions, joining roving bands of refugees who were also trying to evade the various rebel groups and seek asylum in Uganda. Despite living in exile with a quarter of a million other refugees, she says she has gained a clearer perspective of the future.
Betty Ede, 38, lives in Bidi Bidi refugee settlement, Zone 2. Prior to 2016, she taught school and ran a small business in Yei County, South Sudan. At the height of the conflict, she lost her nephew to a treatable illness due to a lack of medicine at the local hospital. The experience prompted Betty to gather her children and walk to Uganda. After arriving in the settlement, Betty and other women formed a group called Togoleta Refugee Women to address gender violence in Bidi Bidi and other camps of the region.