In order to understand the gravity of the story I’m about to tell you, we first need to talk a little bit about what war does to people. There is the economic cost of war, which might I add is always extremely high and poorly allocated. Funding could go much further when used for humanitarian aid than if the purpose is serving a political agenda. But, there is a much higher cost that affects the soul of a nation at war. The true cost of war is calculated in lives lost—the children, parents, and friends that never get to see their cherished loved ones again. War is tragic, violent, and rips families apart that will feel the devastation for generations to come. Our story starts with two little girls, Achol and Abuk, from South Sudan…
14. South Sudan
In 2011, South Sudan gained their independence from Sudan, sparking intense civil conflict within Africa’s newest sovereign state. The civil conflict ripped many families apart, including Achol and Abuk’s family. Among the chaos, the two little girls were separated from their father, Mabior, and ended up at a refugee camp with their pregnant mother, Alik. Living in less than suitable conditions and denied the right to a proper education due to the lack of resources available, the two sisters were afraid—not to mention, Alik was with child as if the situation wasn’t dire enough. The couple’s marriage documents were destroyed, making it impossible for the family to travel together or even be housed together…
13. Humanitarian Efforts
Although the situation was grim, the girls were lucky enough to be at a camp that was able to provide daily food rations thanks to nonprofits like the United Nations, which stepped in and helped provide what food and supplies they could. The camp could have been worse, but there were days where older people and men had to stand aside because there wasn’t enough food for everyone and efforts were focused on mothers and children. As time went on, the conditions at the camp grew to be unbearable as populations increased and sanitation worsened.
12. A Chance
One day, a woman came to the camp looking for young girls who had promising intelligence and challenging circumstances—these girls would be eligible for a sponsor. The woman honed in on both Achol and Abuk, noticing their bright minds and unfortunate situation, and soon the girls had educational sponsors. Luckily, despite the family’s dire situation, it helped that they were together because they were at the top of the list for relocation to the US. A new journey began as the aid workers and volunteers got all the paperwork the girls needed to leave the war torn country. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity that no one in the world deserved more than these two bright young women and this poor mother who had her husband ripped away. It wasn’t going to be easy and the two girls were up for a new adventure…
11. What’s Next
It took a couple of weeks for the paperwork to get together and for the stars to align, and in the meantime nerves and excitement raced through the minds of the family members. Although it was a wonderful opportunity that would no doubt better their lives, leaving the country meant leaving the father that they had so chaotically been separated from. Nevertheless, they left South Sudan for the United States in hopes for a new life and an opportunity to experience higher education. The story really begins here…
10. A New Family
The sponsor family took them under their wing out of the kindness and warmth of their hearts. Achol, who was 16, and Abuk, who was 14, were extremely lucky to have such nice people help them as they arrived in the US—even so, everyone involved knew that nothing was going to make up for the loss of their father who was left behind…
9. A Happy Story
The two young girls grew into intelligent and strong women, who both completed high school in the US and got accepted into college! They continued to look for their father in every way they could from so far away, everyday hoping and praying he had survived the war. Everyone told the family it was highly unlikely that they’d see Mabior again. He remained in South Sudan, looking for the family he had so tragically lost, to no avail. He was staying in a different camp than the girls and wasn’t given any information about their whereabouts.
8. Where To turn
No one ever gave up hope that the family would be reunited again and the young women turned to the same organizations that gave them aid when they needed it, to help find their father. It wasn’t going to be easy as nearly 2.2 million people were displaced due to the civil conflict—finding their father was going to be a shot in the dark. Can you imagine having your family torn apart without any way to know what happened to them? The pain must have been immense…
After months of hard work, a nonprofit organization was able to find Mabior and share the news of his daughters. Apparently, he shed many tears of joy as he relished in the stories of their accomplishments and begged to be reunited with them in their new home. Unfortunately, getting the travel documents needed for such a long adventure to the United States was going to be difficult for the South Sudan native. Documents like this would have been hard for Mabior to get regularly, but especially during war-time and its aftermath.
6. The Time Has come
After lots of work, the time had come for Mabior to be reunited with his two daughters and wife in the US. The family was going to be reunited again after such a long time and they all couldn’t be happier! Now all that separated them was a couple of flights. Old memories raced through his mind as he drove to the airport and began the journey of his lifetime. He couldn’t shake the fact that they were so far away and that it had taken so long for this moment to arrive.
5. The Arrival
The young women anxiously awaited the arrival of their father, arriving hours before his flight was due to arrive. One by one, people would come down the walkways—each time, it wasn’t him but they waited in anticipation like it was going to be. Before Mabior could reach his children and their host family, he was overcome with emotion and dropped to his knees in rejoice that at last, he was reunited with his most precious gift, his children. It’s not surprising that his powerful reaction caught the attention of many other travelers who were curious as to what was going on.
4. They Embrace
Onlookers bawled as they realized how special this family reunion was, as the daughters were once again able to embrace their father with warm and welcoming hugs. Abuk and Achol asked their father how life had been to him, while his wife was in awe and shock at his arrival. He asked them many questions about their accomplishments and new lives—there was so they needed to catch up on!
3. His Little Boy
Perhaps the craziest part of this family reunion is that Mabior met his son for the first time. When the family was originally separated, Alik was pregnant with their son—Mabior never had a chance to be a part of the pregnancy or early years of the child’s life. This was the first time that dad and son got to not only embrace and get to know each other but simply lay eyes on each other!
2. A Promise
The family promised each other that they would never be separated again, no matter what happened. Although the family had been through one heck on a journey, the bond they have is stronger than ever as they now know that distance makes the heart grow fonder.
1. A New Beginning
Today, the family is still in the US, continuing to live happily ever after—and wow do they deserve it!