As an internally displaced person in the Nuba mountains

If the hope of returning home has not died yet

There was no time left to pack up all belongings, to grab all the valuables and to say goodbye to everything. When the soldiers of the Sudanese army arrived in March 2016, the then 26-year-old Maisa and her family had no choice but to instantly flee their homes and into the mountains. She had spent her entire life in Haya Bako, a village of 4000 inhabitants. She grew up there, fell in love, and gave birth to her children – but now there was no time to mourn for anyone or anything. On foot, and carrying the absolutely necessary, Maisa fled with her family and part of the village into the mountains.

To leave her village behind meant not only losing her home to Maisa, but also losing her family village community. During his first visits to the Nuba Mountains, Rupert Neudeck was already enthusiastic about the extraordinary solidarity and community in the mostly very simple and poor villages of the Nuba. A great peculiarity: The village communities have always consisted of Christians, Muslims and animists, who not only could live their religions peacefully side by side, but whose neighbors, regardless of religious affiliation, always hurried to their aid.

Ground offensive triggered new wave of escape

In March 2016, the Sudanese government army launched yet another major ground offensive. The mostly rural population had to flee in large numbers from their villages. Some tried to obtain a place in the already overcrowded refugee camps, others, in the hope of being able to return soon, wanted to stay close to their old home. Many did not  manage to leave their villages in time. Maisa and her family are among them. Together with a few other villagers and many refugees from other parts of Sudan, they joined forces to form a new village. A three-hour walk across the mountains separates them from their old home. The military still occupies the place, which is considered the breadbasket of the region. Especially the water pump, to which the women still have to walk toevery day, is regularly under fire.

“At first we could visit the newly formed village only on foot,” says Johannes Plate, Cap-Anamur nurse in the Nuba Mountains, “but word got around that we come regularly, and meanwhile there’s even a small Community Health Center with some local staff who wastrained by us. Now we do not have to walk there anymore, but we can access the place by car without being shot at “. However, a midwife, who supports expectant mothers at birth and in the first months after in the education about vaccinations and hygiene, is still lacking. As a result, the Cap-Anamur team in the Nuba Mountains are training the now 28-year-old Maisa to be a midwife. In a few months Maisa will have completed her education and will help to further improve the medical care in her village. A return to their old village does not seem possible in the next few months, but Maisa does not give up the hope to be able to return home someday.