John Maliah Bakiam

John Maliah Bakiam is a 59 year-old married man with two wives and nine children. He lives in South Sudan in an Internal Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp in POC 3, Zone G, Block 3. He was born in Bentiu, Unity State, Republic of South Sudan.  

Before being displaced to UNMISS POC in Juba, he had been displaced more than five times. He talks about his experience living in the camp during COVID-19.

"There are currently lots of challenges here in the POCs. For instance, my roof is very old and has developed a lot of potholes. When it rains we are always washed by the rain water."

"The amount of food given to us by WFP [World Food Progamme] has been reduced, it makes us older people vulnerable to COVID-19 as we will have to go outside POCs to look for food."

"Different organisations are running awareness sessions about COVID-19 and we hear about it on the radios and at the service centres. We understand the danger and the measures that have been put in place by different organisations, but we lack soap as the ones given to us are finished."

"My main fear of COVID-19 is that this disease is said to mainly kill older people. It means that when it enters the POCs we, older people will be in danger, especially people like me who have chronic diseases (high blood pressure). Even though for me personally, my close relatives or friends have not been affected by Coronavirus, we are all at risk."

"People are not completely barred or restricted from movement, but the challenge is that places are all closed, and movement is discouraged. There are, however, people living here in the POCs who don’t have food ration cards and depend on daily hustle outside the camps. These individuals are still moving to town along with people who do not have food in their houses who need to keep moving around to look for food."

"This Coronavirus has affected my livelihood. I used to go outside the POCs to do some labour work, constructing local shelters but now I am unable to do so."

"My wages ranged from 1,500 - 2,000 SSP, including lunch and water. It used to be of great help to me and my family. I could afford clothes for my wives and children, buy medicine for my dependants, extra food and respond to my family needs, including my extended family, on time."

"For now, I have had to stop buying clothes, extra diet, and providing any assistance to my extended families. The little balance I am left with is only for medication until lockdown comes to an end and I can resume my work."

"During this period of COVID-19 I decided that I will assist people here in the POCs who have issues with their shelters and are unable to fix them. But people here do not have money so they can only pay you something small."

"Coronavirus remains my ultimate fear taking into consideration the level of health facilities we have in South Sudan that cannot manage COVID-19. I don’t know how they will cope up if people become infected."

"You know COVID-19 has changed the South Sudanese people. Everyone is afraid of each other because of the disease. But the good thing is that it has promoted hygiene like washing hands which used to be a rare thing for some people."

"Media and organisations should continue with the awareness and the government should continue to put measures in place."

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