Makada Zackeria Bangazi has turned her life around, escaping war and hunger to become an active female leader and peace ambassador for her community in war-torn South Sudan.
Despite coming from a relatively comfortable background and receiving an education, war and drought in South Sudan made it difficult for Makada Zackeria Bangazi (47) to survive.
Makada got married during the civil war between Sudan and South Sudan, and would survive on wild fruit and through tough, subsistence agriculture. She could spend 12 hours working to produce one family meal.
In one day, Makada would walk to collect firewood, endure a five-mile walk to fetch five gallons of water, and spend three hours pounding hard sorghum for consumption, as well as cooking and bathing family members. She would only rest for four hours a day, rising early to make sure everything is ready for her family.
Living conditions in her home region of Gogrial State became so bad that she was forced to look for humanitarian aid to feed her family.
In 2013 she joined a Daughters of Mary Immaculate (DMI) group for women. This group offered training and support to build women's skills in areas such as leadership and public speaking. She also joined the DMI saving and lending group, which helps women access money.
“To free my family from hunger and poverty is the reason why I joined the DMI project scheme,” she said.
Having a loan from the saving and loans group means Makada’s living condition have changed. The money she can save has enabled her to pay for her children’s school fees, food supplies, clothing, accommodation and many other expenses.
Makada was supported with agricultural tools such as a sickle, spade, hoes, buckets and sorghum, okra, groundnuts, simsim and vegetable seeds from the DMI-funded project.
After attending a number of trainings with DMI, Makada became an activist and peace ambassador for community reconciliation in Ayiel village. She regularly engages with and mobilises the people of her village on peace and reconciliation, and guides people to use peaceful approaches when resolving issues, such as talking as a means of solving grievances.
Makada has also developed confidence and is no longer shy when speaking before a crowd of people. She has developed skills on budgeting, planning and women’s rights, and no longer tolerates the mistreatment of women by men. She shares her experience and skills with other women in the villages.
We are asking for your help this Christmas - to offer support by providing food, water, shelter and safety to those affected by conflict in countries like South Sudan.