Some things are so unbearably painful that they feel unspeakable. Yet we must dare to see and tell what the rest of the world turns away from.
Everyone in Nuba, Sudan knows that when rainy season ends, the searing sun bakes the mud into a cement-worthy surface with just enough ruts left in it to help the Islamic tanks pull up and across the mountains with ease. Clear skies equal greater visibility and more accurate bombing. Thus, the end of rainy seasons hails the beginning of bomb blitzes and ground-troop invasion.
Thousands of Nuba Mountain civilians have taken refuge from bombings in caves. (Photo credit: Morning Star News/ Diocese of El Obeid)
There was nothing random about either of these targets. Market day happens only once a week in Sudan and South Sudan. Women walk for many miles—with multiple children under foot—with heavy loads of wood they have gathered from the bush piled high on their heads. Men bring garments they’ve made or bartered for. Four and five-year-old girls carry large baskets of cassava leaves or other vegetation they have labored to pick. Six-year-old boys lead herds of cattle down the thatched-walls isles of the market.
All come for the same reason. Desperately working to band together, hoping to stay alive by trading, buying, sharing or selling the hard-earned fares to one another.
No one knows this ancient African system better than the radical Arabic-Islamic regime who has tried to eradicate all indigenous Africans from Sudan and South Sudan for the last six decades. They purposefully targeted the market on the one day a week when mass numbers of women and children would be so preoccupied with the business of survival that they would not be keenly aware of incoming bomber planes—and would be easy prey. Six children were killed, along with an unclear number of adults, and many more injured.
Omar al-Bashir, the president of Sudan, is reported by numerous sources, to say, “Sudan will adhere more exclusively to Islam and Arabic culture.”
I have listened to and wept with many women who told me they were not only gang raped by this regime. Women are also raped with sticks—tearing out their uterus—while being told, “This is so you cannot make black-Christian babies.”
By the grace of God, thus far, none of the orphans under Make Way Partners’ care have been physically injured during these brutal attacks. Nor have the beautiful new homes we built for them been damaged. Still, these young children hear the planes approaching, see the parachute bombs descending, and run for cover—just like many of their friends did as they were killed in their scurry.
Our children feel the earth-rattling thunder from crashing bombs in their bones for days. They are terrified and severely traumatized. Several of our orphans pass out as soon as they hear the roar of the planes approaching, losing consciousness for long periods at a time.
What can ordinary people like you and me do in the face of such horror and inhumanity? For one, we can refuse to ignore it. We can be courageous enough to ponder what it would be like if we—or our sisters or wives—were “these women”, and we can consider what it is we would hope others might do to help. I find when I am willing to put my heart and soul into the tracks of another woman’s shoeless steps, confusion suddenly falls away. I suddenly know what is the right thing to do.
Second, we can speak out for them - realizing they have no voice with the media, Facebook, email and the many educational tools that we have. Which is better use of our modern technology, posting a picture of what I ate for lunch today or sharing a story that could help turn the tides of a multigenerational genocide and sex-slave campaign?
When we allow ourselves to connect with these beautiful people who have endured evil beyond our imagination, it becomes clear what action we need to take.
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