The Story Continues April 6, 2016
The story of the Mabaan people from the South Sudanese continues in Ethiopia due to Sudanese leaders’ single-minded quest for power and authority. To escape fighting, persecution, rape and death, many Mabaans’ fled across the border to Ethiopia.
Aaron Limmo completed his studies in Khartoum with the intent on finding his mother and younger brother in South Sudan but this did not happen as people were not allowed to travel from North to South Sudan due to border crossings/guards. Aaron fled from Khartoum into Ethiopia on foot to Addis Ababa, the capital, then found his way to Asosa and the Sherkole Refugee Camp. Here the majority of refugees were of his tribe, the Mabaan, many of whom walked days into the camp with few possessions and in some cases, the clothes on their backs. This camp, like many others, was under the UNHCR (United National High Commissioner of Refugees) and supports a community of 16,000.
A person had to register their refugee status, was given a number and a food stamp card. Each month each person was given 1 kilo (2.2 lbs) of wheat, 1 bar soap, and 1 cup oil. Unless a family has a plot of ground and seeds to plant vegetables, food is limited and malnutrition rampant. Each person/family had to get permission to collect a certain number of bamboo sticks to make a shelter and cut a certain amount of grass for thatch on the roof. They had to get their own sand from river beds. These makeshift shelters were their home. Water was available from wells dug by humanitarian groups. Initially, there were no buildings or teachers to hold regular school sessions. Sanitation was lacking as were other services in the camp.
For six years (2000-2006), Aaron lived in Sherkole camp but because he was educated, he found work in Asosa with the Swedish program, “Save the Children” and a Dutch NGO (non-government organization). He was a translator in Arabic, Mabaan, English and several other Sudanese tribal languages. Aaron was the secretary for 25 Sudan Interior Churches and served as pastor of Unity Church. He was a social worker and teacher holding seminars in Addis Ababa on Peace issues, Sexual Gender Based Violence and other topics. For his NGO services, he was paid 300 birr (Ethiopia currency) per month which allowed him to help himself and his people.
Hardships abound all around for the Mabaan but through their strong faith, they persevered with the help of God. Now many of them live in Des Moines where they are building a faith community at Epworth UMC (412 E. Euclid). Invite them to worship (amazing singing and powerful witness) in your church or join them at 12:30 PM for their Mabaan worship.
How can you help them?
- Two Des Moines metro churches to hold Sunday School one Sunday a month
- 10 dry erase boards for Mabaan women taking English language classes
- 20 Camperships for Mabaan children to attend Wesley Woods UM Camp
- Designate your VBS offering to support the growing Sunday School program
Contribution may be sent through the local church to the conference treasurer marked: #267, South Sudanese
5221 Village Run Ave. #604
Des Moines Iowa 50317
515 266 4186