The Bank is Still Open

by on August 5, 2009
in Business, Sudan


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. :)


Teachers in the Desert


Aziza Souleyman Mahamet is a 40-year-old mother of three who is a refugee living in Djabal camp, Chad. Having been attacked by the Janjaweed fighters in West Darfur, her family walked for seven days to reach the Chadian border. They lived there for several months until the UNHCR found them and brought them to Djabal camp.

Luckily for Aziza, the UNHCR was looking for people to teach the numerous children living in the camp. She knew how to read and write, and after a training, became a teacher. Now she is one of the few refugees making a small living. Aziza is passionate about her job, pushing her students to study. Most of them have not forgotten their escape from Darfur, many having seen their parents being murdered. Under those circumstances it is difficult to explain to them to stay in school and learn.

Thankfully, various psycho-social programs in the camp have provided counselling to many children, helping them focus better in class. But Aziza knows that she is teaching under very difficult conditions. Usually the kids are studying while sitting in the sand, one book being shared by three students. Also the harsh weather in eastern Chad is not helping. Sandstorms and the rainy season can discourage the most dedicated pupils.

Nonetheless Aziza keeps going. She thinks about the future, she thinks about the time when her students will be able to go back to Darfur. They will have these skills, reading and writing, that will help them rebuild the region. That’s why Aziza is adamant and keeps telling parents to send their kids to school. She knows how a difference in someone’ s life reading and writing can make. Via

Update: I found a great post about Darfur refugees by Ola at I Run For Life!