Orphan Crisis in South Sudan Escalates

One Boy’s Story of Hope

Baby Obbo was one of the lucky ones. Untold thousands of orphans in this country never make it to a safe place. He doesn’t remember coming to St. Bakhita Orphanage or who placed him in the care of Sister Bianca Bii – a Sudan Relief Fund partner who has faithfully watched over orphans for decades.

Obbo was just one week old the day he arrived. He was too young to know he was an orphan of war. He grew up knowing nothing other than his world at St. Bakhita Orphanage. Until an unexpected day when a stranger came to their door asking about him which would change his life forever.

There is a staggering orphan population in this nation, children who struggle against all odds  to survive in a country not equipped to care for them. With war in Sudan bringing new refugees over the border daily, their numbers keep growing.

How Did We Get Here? Orphan Crisis at a Glance

Two civil wars killed 2.4 million people

6 million suffering from food insecurity

4 out of 5 people below poverty line

325,000 new child refugees

There are currently more than 2 million displaced people in South Sudan today. Half of these are believed to be children. An estimated 60 percent of these children are orphans – an incomprehensible number.

The picture grows more dire with conflict in Sudan creating new child refugees, what UNICEF says “is now the largest child displacement crisis in the world,” with a recorded 3 million children fleeing the widespread violence. Without food, clean water, or a safe place to sleep, an orphan’s life expectancy is grim. Unprotected children may be trafficked into human slavery, forcibly conscripted into militias, and even face lethal wild predators. Without help they will die from sickness, starvation, or something more violent.

Children try to raise other children in the “worst child displacement crisis in the world.”

It’s hard to even comprehend dangers like this facing children in our modern age. But it’s a terrible reality in this part of the world.

The light in this dark tragedy is how much difference can be made in an orphan’s life who receives help. For over 25 years, we’ve supported orphanages across South Sudan that transform the lives of hopeless children.

Obbo is one of them. 

Obbo became an orphan of war for the simple fact that his father, Eliakim, was of Eritrean descent, and his mother was Ethiopian. No sooner had Eliakim and his wife given birth to their one week old son, than a violent war broke out between Eritrea and Ethiopia.

Couples in marriages with Eritreans and Ethiopians were forced to divorce, and families were torn apart. Obbo’s mother fled. A baby boy was caught in the middle.

The sheer number of orphans is unimaginable and growing, with war raging in Sudan.

Difficult Choice

Although Eliakim didn’t want to abandon his infant son, he had no way to care for his new baby in the midst of the violence. Forced to make a quick and difficult decision, he brought Obbo to Sister Bianca at St. Bakhita Orphanage.

That decision changed Obbo’s life. Unlike many orphans, he never had to languish for food on the streets, fight his fear of the dangers at night, or tragically see his parents die. Thanks to donors who sponsor the orphanage, the children have enough to eat, clean water, clothes to wear, their own bed to sleep in, medical care, and the chance to go to school – an opportunity that changes their entire future.

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Astonishing Reunion

Then came the day a man showed up at the orphanage asking about Obbo. It was his father. For the first time in thirteen years, an emotional  Eliakim was able to look upon the face of his son. He was moved with gratitude to discover Obbo was well, and that he could find him after two relocations of the orphanage from where he left his son all those years ago. 

Sister Bianca took care of Obbo for years until his father was able to come back for him.

Since the reunion, Obbo has gone to live with his father and extended family. He will be completing his studies and getting to know his relatives. He is happy to have the chance to get to know his father – something he never imagined would be possible.

Stories like Obbo’s are possible, but only because a place was there in his critical moment of need, a place equipped to take care of him. Thanks to your support, Obbo’s orphan journey has come to a happy conclusion, and 100 orphans still living at St. Bakhita have a place to call home.

But there are so many more children who need help.

The most vulnerable. Without help, orphans have little chance against the perils they face.

Please Help Orphans

Sudan Relief Fund orphanages have taken in babies left in garbage bins. Children who ran for their lives as their parents were lost in a hail of bullets. Little ones abandoned because they had a handicap. Sickly children left to die who were nursed back to health. And tiny malnourished babies no one expected to survive.

At our homes for children, orphans have been protected from famine, natural disasters, violence and warfare – things no child could survive alone. The inevitable reality is orphans have no chance of overcoming the perils stacked against them. Not without help.

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Please consider taking a moment to reach across the world to a child in desperate need. Even now orphans are roaming streets and countrysides searching for food, shelter, someone to reach out to them, someone to help them feel safe. They are tired. They are hungry. They are traumatized. And they are very vulnerable.

With your help we can reach more children. Please help us provide more orphans with lifesaving help today, and the gift of hope for their future.

Neil A. Corkery


Neil A. Corkery President

PS – Your gift allows us to rescue orphans from facing terrible dangers, sickness, and starvation. Please help us reach another child in need. Your simple choice to help makes all the difference in their lives.

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