Mikelina and her husband, Phillip, are refugees from South Sudan. War drove them from their village. Phillip’s father was killed in front of his family by soldiers of one of the factions in conflict. Mikelina fled her home alongside her husband, leaving her eldest daughter,
Resettling from South Sudan
Helen, to care for her grandmother. However, when the couple reached the border of Uganda, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) captured them and several other South Sudanese refugees. Mikelina describes the LRA as a torturous killing machine that will chop refugees into pieces with the very farming tools they use to cultivate their fields. When the LRA captured Mikelina and three other women, she was the only one to survive because she threw herself into the river before the LRA could bind and kill her. Mikelina was fortunate to have learned how to swim. Although she narrowly escaped death, she endured lashes, beatings, and assaults by LRA soldiers. They even stabbed her! Mikelina lived in the forest with untreated injuries for four weeks before Ugandan soldiers patrolling the area found her. To this day, Mikelina continues to suffer health complications resulting from her wounds. Her husband, also captured by the LRA and bound for 24 hours in preparation to be executed with other South Sudanese refugees, managed to escape, too.
Eventually, the UNHCR legitimized Mikelina’s story and officially classified her family as refugees of war. While living in the refugee camp, her family lacked opportunities for education and employment, as well as access to food, water, and beds. Easily torn papyrus mats were all they had for cushioned sleeping.
It has been difficult for Mikelina and her husband to navigate American society without adequate working knowledge of the English language. But last December, an Adopt-a-Family host generously showered Mickelina and her family with numerous gifts of essential household items. And Nile Sisters volunteers provide at-home ESL tutoring to help the family assimilate a new culture in the United States.
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