Martha Daniel Lul is 52-year-old widow who lives in the Internal Displaced Persons (IDPs) Camp at UN-House-POC 1, Block B, since 2013. She is a mother of eight children - three boys and five girls – and has 13 grandchildren.
Martha was born in Pangak, Jonglei State in the Republic of South Sudan. She got married in 1984 at the age of 16 and had two children with him. She lost her husband in 1990 in the bush during the Anyanya one rebellion war and although she has never remarried, she was inherited by her deceased husband’s brothers - as per Nuer tradition – with whom she had more children in her husband’s name.
“Like many South Sudanese who grow up or lived during the civil war between Sudan and South Sudan, we were displaced from our ancestral land in Pangak to Khartoum in around 1998. There was no camp like the one we live in today, but the difference is that in Khartoum we were working but here we typically depend on the UN and other NGOs for assistance. If they give you something, then you will take it. But if they don’t give you anything then you suffer.
“We have to remember that the organisations’ operations are based on budgets. The challenge here is that someone like me with many responsibilities cannot purely rely on NGOs for our personal needs and for your extended families”.
“Here in the POCs there are campaigns and awareness on COVID-19 prevention run every day by different organizations. They have translated messages in various local languages for everyone to understand, and they have even provided each household with soaps and containers for washing hands. Although my relatives, my friends and I have not been affected by COVID-19, my main fear is that this camp is so congested and crowded if Coronavirus reaches here, we will all die helplessly. Here in the POCs we rely on temporary facilities as clinics and they cannot manage all of us. We are scared.
“As older people we like to move around and visit our friends to chat with them. But now, we are being told to minimize and stop our movements during this COVID-19 period. It’s making us isolated and traumatised. We were given two months food rations by WFP but the food we received is about to get finished within the first month. I do not know what is going to happen.
“What is paining me now is that the 9,750 SSP (40 USD) that was given to me by HelpAge International in 2018 as livelihood support to run a small business is about to consume both the capital and the profit because of this lockdown.
“I sell food and other items, such as dried fish, soap, tomatoes, onion, cooking oil, salt, and charcoal. The business wasn’t bad because I was able to buy soap and pay school fees for my grandchildren. But now, I am unable to go to town to buy goods for my business.
“Since I received the cash, I have made about 50,000 - 60,000 SSP profit. In a day I earned between 700 – 1,200 SSP a day.
“Now that we are in lockdown I cannot do anything. All the stores and shops in the town are closed. It has paralyzed my business! I was thinking of starting to collect firewood from the bushes to sale here in the POCs but the firewood collection point is very far away and I cannot manage with my age. It’s only young people and those who are still strong who can do this.
“The food WFP gives us is not enough, especially for us older people. I used to buy other foods like fish, meat or eggs using part of my profits, but now I don’t know what to do. Again, if COVID 19 ends and schools reopen, how will I assist my grandchildren? It is challenging!
“Indeed, life is currently very challenging. I have cut back on the diet I used to have and now rely purely on beans from WFP. But I think it will have implications for my body.
“One of the biggest challenges we have in the camp is that our community leaders are also displaced persons. They are also vulnerable and depend on support from the UN and NGOS as well, they can’t help us unless maybe by disseminating information on COVID 19.
“Our biggest fear currently in the camp is Coronavirus. If I am infected, I don’t know how I will survive. I strongly commend all partners that continue with the campaigns and awareness about COVID 19 they should be done on all platforms especially through the radios.”