I spent my childhood fleeing violence. My parents didn't want me to be recruited as a child soldier, so the longest I ever stayed in one place was three months.
My mom and dad helped us survive. They split us apart, some of my siblings went to live with my aunts and uncles. If anything happened to other side, then we figured at least one side of the family would still be alive.
My dad dug foxholes to hide in when bombs were dropped. My mom foraged for wild food when we were starving. We rarely had enough food to eat.
When I was 10, my family was attacked by helicopters flying overhead. I hid behind a mahogany tree, but my sister got hit. Shrapnel broke two of her ribs and her hand was split open. My dad who had always helped us survive, gave up. We all felt we were just waiting to die. I felt hopeless and trapped; I didn’t want to live like this anymore.
Then, a peace agreement was signed in 2005, ending Sudan’s 22-year long civil war. There was great hope for education, better infrastructure and healthcare.
But as I got older, the violence only continued.
A group of cattle keepers had killed my cousin and the community wanted me to help take revenge. A group of young men from the community forcibly took me to a place where they killed a man in front of me as part of my “training.” It was horrible.
I asked the group leader to leave to get supplies for the next day. When I got home, I told my dad I didn’t want to fight. He said he would support me. The next day my dad found a truck to get me out of the area.
I felt there had to be a better way to live, without conflict. But I didn’t know how. Then I saw a posting for a job with Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP). They wanted to resolve the conflict in my community through nonviolence.
I began working with NP to resolve the conflict in my community. For the first time in a long time, I had a hope that we could create a better future, without violence.
There are many people like me, who are forced to flee, who are separated from loved ones and under constant threat of violence.
After I had left to join NP, the group of youth continued killing people. Then the other side took revenge, killing even more people from my community. In two months, over 100 people had been killed.
With NP’s support, I spoke to the chief and asked him to stop the attacks. He told me we needed to take revenge to make up for our loss. He was afraid we would be made vulnerable by not attacking.
I disagreed. I said, “It was my cousins who were killed, my relatives who died. If anyone should feel pain it should be me. If we kill more people, what do you think will happen? They will come back and kill more of us. We’ve never tried a different way. Let’s think beyond today, let’s think about tomorrow and the tomorrow after.”
The chief agreed that Nonviolent Peaceforce could talk to the other side and said he would tell the men not to attack again.
Our staff split up to stay with the two different communities. Over the next six months, we held 100 meetings between the two communities in a safe space. In the end, a peace agreement was signed between our two chiefs which still holds to this day.
Thank you supporting peacekeepers like Hunter who are able to peacefully resolve conflict their own communities.