The Bank is Still Open
Deng Agei barely knows what it is to live during peace time. The young Sudanese man has known war for so many years, that now, life under peace seems like heaven to him. And he is enjoying the possibility of building a new life for himself. Actually he had already started after the end of the war in Sudan.
In 2005, the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between north and south Sudan marked the end of the Second Sudanese Civil War, which had lasted more than 20 years. An estimated two million people were killed and four million displaced during the second civil war, which began in 1983. Deng thought about opening a microbusiness selling food and goods. Luckily for him, Lietnohm, his village was chosen to get a real bank from where he could microfinance his business.
The sight of your bank local branch in your neighborhood is so common that you don’t even pay attention to it. It’s there, period. But in Southern Sudan, a brick and mortar bank in a village was a first. The idea was supported by Five Talents, a non profit helping the Southern Sudanese people adjust from their ancestral pastoral life with educational programs. Deng took a loan and had his business booming in the central market of Lietnohm until skirmishes broke again.
Southern Sudan is a patchwork of ethnicity, languages and clans making it difficult to unify the population. A conflict started between two clans in Lietnohm ending up in most of the village being burned down, including Deng’s shop and savings. Deng was not demoralized. He decided to start again.
Interestingly, one of the rare buildings not destroyed during the clans fight was the bank with its more than $10,000 in cash, a real fortune in Sudan. Since everyone, every clan has interests in it, the building was spared by the fight and is bringing the community together again.
Deng took another loan. He rebuilt his business so well that now he is doing much better than before the clans fight erupted. Deng can really see now a better future.