South Sudan is the world’s newest country and one whose future is being determined by a violent civil war. Thousands of people are pouring out of the country in to neighboring areas, like Ethiopia and Kenya. One Siouxland man is working from thousands of miles away to help refugees there looking for a safe haven.
Stephen Chambang is both a citizen of the U.S. and South Sudan. He’s lived in the Midwest for the better part of two decades, but many of his friends and family are living near the border of South Sudan in Western Ethiopia, in order to take care of the refugees, mostly children, who are fleeing the country.
“A lot of children, they’ve been wounded. Some of them, they’ve been dead,” Chambang said, speaking about the children refugees fleeing the violence of South Sudan.
As both a South Sudan and U.S. citizen, Stephen Chambang works from the U.S. to help take care of the orphaned refugees pouring in to Ethiopia from South Sudan’s borders. He says the civil war there is causing
thousands of refugees to flee the country for safety.
“The people who are becoming victims right now in the country, they are children, elders and innocent people,” said Stephen Chambang, South Sudan native and U.S. citizen advocating for refugee help.
He says the war there has been tearing apart the country since it started in December of 2013. From both sides reportedly kidnapping young boys to become child soldiers to the killings around the country, many children are running away, in danger and often orphaned.
His group, Roaring Lion, helps take care of kid orphaned by the war, fleeing the country. Chambang says he has a small piece of land in the small village of Matar in Ethiopia where they take care of as many as
they can, but they struggle to help all the children pouring in to the shelter day after day. He says many show up with malaria or typhoid, others wounded from the violence or landmines buried around the country.
He says they try to care for as many as they can but their supplies are very limited. He says it’s a problem that will likely worsen as the year goes on.
“So now that it’s the dry season, there will be a war in the country now, in South Sudan. So there will be more people crossing the borders from South Sudan to Ethiopia. So with the dry season, the violence continues a lot,” he said.
Next month, Chambang will travel to Ethiopia, to see his family as well as the children and refugees staying at Roaring Lion. He says they’re hoping to help take care of many kids and more, as well as spread awareness to the issue here, to those who can help.
“I believe that today we are winning the awareness and advocate for a connection to serve those children who live in Ethiopia on the border. And then they can receive the peace of life,” he said.
For more information on Stephen and the work he and the others at Roaring Lion are doing to help the refugees fleeing the violence in South Sudan, visit their website here.