Meet Mary Athien Chol
Mary Athien Chol is 38 years old and lives in Wulu, South South Sudan. A Christian, she is a widow with 7 children (3 girls and 4 boys) living in the home you can see behind her in the photograph. It has two floors and is thatched with grass. Her husband build it before he was killed 4 years ago in April 2014 in inter-clan fighting.
Mary also takes care of her sister’s six children (4 girls and 2 boys) – her sister Amakou Chol died shortly after Mary’s husband in July 2014. Amakou went into labour while she was alone, and on her way to the small health clinic gave birth to twins. She died 5 hours later due to bleeding, and sadly one of the twins also died. However the other is alive and ve present with Mary now. In the picture below, Mary stands in the middle. On the right side are children of her sister Amakou and on left are her children. They all live together in the house. Mary told Philip, the Wulu Diocese Development Officer, “God was great” – because at the time that her sister died, she had given birth to her own daughter one month previously, so was able to breastfeed both her own daughter and her sister’s baby. People looking at her though she had had twins, and she thanks God for that. She managed to breastfeed the two babies for two years without any difficulties. Her sister’s husband was also killed 2 years later in 2016 by unknown gunman on his way to his home.
Mary told Philip that she had experienced many challenges in her life over the last 4 years which she had not expected. Being a Christian is the foundation of her life. She depends only on the powers of Almighty God to support her in raising the six orphaned children of her sister and her own seven children.
She mentioned some of the challenges she faces on a day to day basis. She said that it was very difficult to take care of so many children, having to manage feeding, dressing, sickness, school fees and so on.
For some time she thought that it might be a punishment resulting from something she or her parents had done. But now she sees that Almighty God has taken care of her for the last 4 years. The children have not faced any significant problems, and she thanks God and prays that God’s blessing will continue with her and the children for the rest of their lives.
Source of Living
Mary wakes up very early in the morning whenever she can to make sure that at least her family are satisfied at the end of the day. She wakes up and works in the farm for 4 hours cultivating, then fetches water from the river which takes another hour. She collects firewood for 1 hour and grinds meal for 2 hours. Cooking and eating take another 2 hours. Then there is bathing for 1 hour and preparing the beds for sleeping for another 1 hour. It make a total of 12 hours work from morning til evening. The family eat once a day – this is not enough for them but at least they are better off than many.
Ox- Plough Benefits
The provision of ox-ploughs will increase local crop productions and help the women’s groups to achieve their objectives: to reduce family poverty, improve family health status, support children’s education, support church activities and empower women to be leaders in rural development. The support that we give in funding the ox ploughs and enabling more productive agricultural activities will improve the lives of women like Mary and their families. .
Mary concluded that if there had been a good health facility with qualified doctors, her sister would not been suffered during pregnancy and would not have died. She would have known she had twins in her womb and been better prepared as to when and where they would be delivered. Mary ended the conversation in tears.
What we are doing
We are aiming to raise 600 USD every six months for the purchase of oxen and ploughs. Two oxen and a plough costs about 550 USD, currently about £428,