Photo: IOM/J. Fierro
South Sudanese by heritage, Annet was born and raised in a refugee camp in Uganda. She moved back to South Sudan with her family, who had fled the country during the long civil war.
It was the lead-up to the vote on independence that motivated their return, “because your home is yours, you always think about coming home.”
When they arrived in South Sudan, their transition was not easy. This was the first time Annet had been back to ‘her’ country. She and her siblings constantly compared the lifestyle and culture in South Sudan to life in Uganda, but with time “we got used to South Sudan and it quickly felt like home.”
However, just two years after South Sudan’s independence in 2011, fighting erupted between political rivals and quickly spread throughout the country. The conflict has displaced millions, both within South Sudan and to neighbouring countries.
Shortly after the fighting started, Annet started as a mid-wife at a displacement site in Malakal, a flashpoint in the conflict. But she felt strongly that she must go: “Staying [in Malakal] has exposed me to a lot of challenges. And I know, even if I have to move again, I’ll be able to adjust.”
Growing up as a refugee, Annet can relate to these internally displaced persons (IDPs) she supports: “It is my duty to help these people, I feel for them so much, because it is what I lived.”
Annet took it upon herself to slowly and methodically gain the trust of the IDPs. “At the beginning, the women were unsure of my abilities; they would see me and think I’m so tiny, how can I really be their midwife?” She would visit them house-by-house and soon gained their confidence and trust. Now, whenever they arrive at the clinic and Annet is not there, many women will ask where she has gone.