Finding safety in Uganda
Mary's incredible story of survival
Thirteen-year-old Mary was at school when she heard gunfire. Desperate to find her parents, she ran home – but when she got there, soldiers were outside shooting people.
Mary was forced to run for her life. Thankfully, she met a neighbour who was fleeing on foot to Uganda with her children to find safety. Together, they walked for a week – without food or water. "When it rained, we drank water off the leaves," Mary said.
By the time they reached the Bidibidi refugee settlement they were weak with hunger and exhausted from their frightening journey.
But at least they were safe.
Mary – who doesn’t know if her parents survived – now lives in the settlement with her neighbour. They arrived at the same time as a huge influx of families – and there just wasn’t enough access to clean water. At first, a stream was the nearest place to collect water, but it made Mary ill. “The water we were drinking was not good. It caused stomach problems,” she explains. A water tank was put in place, but supplies were often delivered at night and Mary didn’t feel safe collecting water in the dark. Then Plan International installed a water pump five minutes’ walk from Mary’s house.
Now she has clean water to drink, wash with and keep her home clean. This has changed everything for Mary. When Mary fled the fighting at home, she brought along just one possession – the school uniform she was wearing that day. But now she’s using it again at school, where she has the chance to learn and grow, safe from the conflict. English is one of her favourite subjects. But if you ask Mary what her real passion is, she’ll tell you – it’s running. “I can run faster than some of the boys!” she says.
Your support is transforming the lives of girls like Mary.
Little gallery of hope and happiness
Juma’s story of survival
Juma was just 7 years old when the conflict in South Sudan reached his community. As the fighting intensified, there was no other choice but to flee the violence and make the dangerous five-day journey by road and on foot to reach the border with Uganda.
Juma travelled with his uncle Saleh and his six cousins. The family travelled by back roads through the bush avoiding soldiers and check points. During their journey Juma and his family witnessed beatings and killings before finally reaching the safety of Bidibidi refugee settlement.
A year on and Juma is now attending the Plan-supported Early Childhood Care and Development centre in Bidibidi. The centre has been incredibly important in helping Juma come to terms with the trauma and violence he experienced. It offers a safe place for Juma to learn, play and simply be a child.
Going to the centre is Juma’s favourite thing to do. His uncle Saleh has noticed the change in him since he started to attend the centre. And as Juma says, “I like to come to school, and be clever and I like singing. I like playing football”.
Support like yours is helping children like Juma feel safe again.
Going to school…
Seven-year-old Jenny usually saves up beautiful smiles like this one for her grandmother, who cares for her since her mother died. Plan International is working to make sure girls like Jenny, who live in the Andes – one of the most deprived regions of Ecuador – can go to school.
Your support makes a huge difference, helping us change the lives of vulnerable children throughout the world and giving them the chance of a brighter future. Thank you!