By Kur Wel Kur, Australia
April 6, 2015 (SSB) —- Abeny Kucha Tiir, a former refugee and a single mother of three boys and a daughter, plunged into unimaginable sufferings by a civil war. A war that claimed the loves of her life, her brother, her husband and her daughter. She dived into daring responsibilities of taking care of her children and her siblings by herself.
Abeny is brave. We witnessed her bravery in how she told her truthful story. The truth bears rough edges, which sting our ears, hearts and souls every time we hear, read, speak or write it. An encapsulated lie with nice words and voice, doesn’t hurt. Truth, people may think. When I read Abeny’s book[Tears of a Mother], my tears blurred my vision because it reminds me of troubles and bitter sufferings of single mothers in the war.
Rewind before 1983, Her marriage and horrors of the civil war.
Abeny-thii was born to Kucha Tiir Angok by Adau Thiel Lual in Kuch-dok sub-clan of Paleek clan in Juor Gok section of Bor. Kucha Tiir, as an educated person, had a job in health sector so his children accessed the education. Abeny and her sister enrolled at school in Leer and Bentiu town because Kucha Tiir, their father worked there before he moved to Bor town.
The civil war hijacked sweet times of her childhood and marriage.The war raged Sudan. When Abenythii turned 18, her younger brother, Jok joined the SPLA so he traveled to Boga in Ethiopia for military training. Jok never made it back to Bor. He fell a hero in the liberation war. At 19, Abeny married her former teacher, Akech Jok Kut from Angakweei, Athooc section of Bor in 1985. Before she gave birth to her elder daughter, her husband left for Boga as a recruit of SPLA.
Trekking to Itang refugee camp in Ethiopia,the short-lived happiness.
Abeny at first hand, saw horrors of war in her village and nearby villages. The government indiscriminately raided villages as a punishment for rebellion, SPLM/A. Villagers starved to death. There, she witnessed a child breastfeeding on a dead mother.
In the lifeless ruins of war, resilience craves a breath of fresh air, even in unlikely place such refugees camp, could be better than to live among the tombs with nothing to eat and no medication. Abeny with her baby and her siblings trekked to Itang’s refugees camp.
Abeny reunited with her husband in Itang and she had other two children, a daughter (Aduot) and a son (Kut). Her family life began to mushroom. They had plenty to eat. Their small garden bore them vegetables and cereals. they also kept livestocks, goats and cows, which provided them with milk. The UN supplemented these with oil, beans and more cereals such as corns and sorghum. Abeny and her husband tried to revived the spoiled sweet times of their young marriage; however, a civil war broke out in the host country, Ethiopia. Magistu fell. Abeny received a second psychological wound, she lost her husband to Oromo rebels.
The birth of her book’s tittle: Tears of a Mother.
Abeny, pregnant with a four months baby (Jok), trudged in the mud and waded in deep waters. She with children and other South Sudanese refugees crossed the border into South Sudan. In August and September of 1991, rains poured and they had no enough beddings, especially blankets. In this time, she had no information of her husband’s death so she curiously asked soldiers who came wounded, about what happened to the soldiers who slugged behind to delay the swiftly coming Oromo rebels. They told her that no survivors left.
The following day, Abeny went to the river(Gilo) to fetch water. She witnessed another horror. Hundreds of corpses streamed down the river past her. The bitterness and sadness of her husband’s fate numbed her brain so she decided to turn the floating bodies faces up, thinking she might recognise her husband. After turning a number of corpses, she sat back in tiredness. She gathered her strength and scooped some water, then she left. After staying for sometimes along Gilo river, Abeny with children, siblings and other refugees journeyed to Pochalla.
In Pochalla, in Kapoeta, the fear, sickness and hunger.
In Pochalla, her daughter (Aduot) suffered from chronic sickness fuelled by malnutrition. The UN air-dropped a little food. So they started to eat leaves and tubers. With Aduot’s situation worsening, Abeny begged and cried to a South Sudanese volunteering for Red Cross to airlift her daughter to Kapoeta through Lokichioggio. After nine days of waiting, she flew to Lokichioggio with her children, then to Kapoeta by road. In Kapoeta, she delivered her son (Jok). Meanwhile, rumors of Sudanese government sending soldiers to attack Kapoeya, filled the air. Abeny anticipated the situation so she rushed to one of her cousin in charge of the lost boys. The Red Cross provided trucks to transport lost boys to Kapoeta. She begged and cried to that cousin. The streaming tears on mother’s cheek, reflect light to shine over her children, relatives and those in need indeed. Finally, her cousin allowed her with the children into one of the trucks.
Fast forward: Nairobi, Ifo and America.
Because She lost her daughter (Aduot) at Kapoeta (her third psychological wound ) in South Sudan, Abeny then, had three children of her own and four siblings under her care. Her son (Kut) contracted typhoid so she grew thinner and thinner. Abeny was worried she might loss him so she raced to the camp (Kakuma) leader and begged to approve her traveling to Nairobi. The camp leader allowed her and children after he witnessed how worse the situation of Abeny’s son.
Abeny in Nairobi, the rejection, Ifo and America.
In the wilderness, the messages, we hear from those we look upto, befuddle us. Abeny with the children suffered more in Nairobi. A cousin to her husband threatened to turn her back to Kakuma. She pleaded with him to allow her to follow up her son’s treatment. Abeny with her son, visited the doctor. The doctor prescribed an eight months medication to her son. They spent this period suffering from series of things. From lack of clothes, even private clothings, hygienic items such as tooth brushes to lack of enough food. Abeny confessed in her book[Tears of a Mother ] that she shared someone’s tooth brush.
After her son’s treatment, she moved to Ifo after hearing that Canadians and Americans were resettling some people in their countries.
With her children and some people, she boarded a bus to Ifo. On the way, the Somalian rebels stopped them. At guns point, they robbed them of their a few belongings. The rebels left them safe but with only underwears. Abeny registered her case in Canadian office; however, she ended in America.
America, relatives, opportunities
Nothing galled the women with the living husbands than to see widows living better than them. Our hearts melt in pain because it hurts to imagine Abeny’s tribulations. But, through her empathy, she helps those in need. Abeny, a lone lioness, maimed psychologically by war and refugee’s life; however, she clawed everything in her ways to the glory. No free pass to glory, we must toil, sweat, cry or even bleed to the point of giving up, and there, the glory ‘s gate crumbles open to welcome us .
Abeny left the suffering of having to worry about poverty, dangers of war and rejections in Africa and she submerged in pure puzzles of educating her children and herself in a vast technological world.
Apart from learning new things in America, Abeny proposed her two step-brothers to migrate to America. They in turns, proposed some family members too. The bitter and sad ‘tears of a mother’ turned into blessings, blessings in terms of opportunities.
Abeny emerged victorious. She repaired her family and pushed it to achieve the greatness. If her story wins some hearts and minds among South Sudanese’ s population, then her desires to stay true to her motherhood roles, rocketed her up to shatter the glass ceiling.
The endless stream of sufferings, in which the rare iron hearted lioness shouldered their loads, fueled her self esteem to accomplish the job all mothers wish, seeing her daughter graduating with one of most respected degree. A doctorate in law (PHD), her two sons (Kut and Jok) are pursuing their degrees at universities and her brother (Mareac) graduated with the engineering degree. He builds aircrafts.
Time heals psychological wounds so now she discusses her pains over meals with her loved ones and especially in her book.
Why Abeny’s empathy must intrigue our interest ?
Abeny is a beacon of light to dozen of orphans because she and her children chewed the grains of suffering and of having no one to turn to, except God. So through her empathy, she is planning to give back to her country by establishing sponsorship to orphans and widows.
Stories such as Abeny’s, coax and melt our hearts because of the emotional despair and surprises in them.
To the reader,thanks for reading this far but this isn’t a substitute for the book [Tears of a Mother.] But a snapshot of it so acquire yourself a copy on Amazon.com to know the full story.
Thanks, God blesses South Sudan, widows and orphans of war.