St. Bakhita Orphanage
Saving South Sudan’s Forgotten Children
Moses came to St. Bakhita Orphanage after his parents were shot and killed in a violent attack on their village. He and his brothers ran to escape. When they dared to return, they discovered the devastating outcome. His parents were gone. Their home was burned down. All of a sudden Moses’ life was forever changed.
Sister Bianca Bii turns no one away at St. Bakhita Orphanage. Some would say Moses was one of the fortunate ones. At the orphanage he will have shelter, food, clean water, and the chance to go to school.
Out in the countryside you see astonishing numbers of orphans who were not fortunate enough to find refuge – weary children drifting aimlessly about. You are immediately stricken by how young they are. How small. How they shouldn’t be wandering around alone in the bush.
Their tiny outstretched hands silently ask any strangers they encounter for a scrap of bread. They roam the countryside in search of food, but are largely ignored or unsuccessful. At night they look for sheltered places to curl up where they hope they’ll be safe from wild predators that come out after dark.
Abandoned children, a common sight here, eventually blend into the background of the landscape, becoming largely forgotten.
There are a tragic number of orphans roaming the towns and countryside of South Sudan. Years of war, extreme poverty, and prevalent disease rob many children of their parents. Sometimes families become separated in the chaos when sudden attacks force them all to run for their lives. Some families are never reunited.
The sad truth is orphaned children can’t survive alone for very long in South Sudan, despite how they try. There are no social programs here to help them, no government mandates to protect them. Left on their own to roam the bush, they will die from starvation, sicknesses like malaria, or gruesome attacks by wild animals. They’re at risk of kidnapping into trafficking, slavery, or forced conscription by violent militias.
Sudan Relief Fund doesn’t believe it’s tolerable for any child to be abandoned or left alone to die. Together with our supporters, we’re striving to give orphaned children a new life and hope for their future.
Sister Bianca Bii is one of the warriors in this fight. Decades ago, she began going house to house to check on children who lost parents in warfare. She brought them food and treated their wounds or sicknesses. Eventually there were so many children that she sought help to start a home. She named the home after the patron saint of South Sudan – Saint Bakhita, a woman who overcame incredible hardship with courage and fought hostility with goodness.
Since then, St. Bakhita Orphanage has raised many children to adulthood. The home provides shelter, food, clean water, clothing, medicine, the chance to go to school, and the reminder that each of them are loved and valued children of God.
Some of Sister Bianca’s children have gone on to higher education, returning to offer encouragement to the younger ones. Through it all, Sister Bianca has remained a faithful guardian and committed caregiver – at times the only caregiver for many children.
More than once over the years, the threat of dangerous violence encroached on the orphanage grounds. Sister Bianca has been known to hide the children and remain by their side despite great risk to herself, to keep them safe. Her stalwart faith has always been her greatest weapon.
Recently, instability in Tombura – where Saint Bakhita Orphanage was situated for years – made it necessary to relocate the children. They were evacuated safely to Nzara, where construction is underway on a new home for Sister Bianca and her children. The fortuitous move allows for a more stable environment, access to excellent healthcare at a Sudan Relief Fund sponsored hospital, and close proximity to schools.
The new arrangement also gives Sister Bianca Bii – now nearing her eighties – extra childcare support from an order of nuns known as the Blue Sisters, to help with the needs of more than 100 children who call St. Bakhita Orphanage their home.
This lifechanging work to rescue children who have lost everything is only possible because of your support. Grace Umerani knows this well. She grew up at St. Bakhita Orphanage, became one of the top students in her country, and earned a scholarship to attend college in New York state. She studies health and human services and plans to return to share her skills in her home area.
Grace says, “Without the orphanage, I could not be where I am today. It’s so important, especially for someone like me who has no family.” She added, “The donations made will impact those kids for the rest of their lives, and they will always remember.”
Would you like to become a sponsor for Saint Bakhita Orphanage? Learn more here.