Trying to Rise Up from the Ashes

Displaced Families Strive to Start Over in the Refuge of Wau Camps

Sister Anne Wandia wakes up every morning with a single purpose and mission – to give displaced families of the Wau refugee camps a chance to start again.

Torn from homes, villages, and peaceful agrarian lives, thousands have fled to the Wau refugee camps through the years, when violence or disaster swept through their communities without warning.

“Survivors said they had nothing to return to, with their houses, crops, and property destroyed.”

“The people of Wau are especially grateful to God, and to all the Sudan Relief Fund supporters, who make their life have meaning.”

The Conflict

Recent outbreaks of violent clashes fueled by political and tribal conflict burned villages and rained down gunfire on communities, forcing some 80,000 people from their homes in 2021 alone, according to UN figures. Thousands of others were displaced in the past year by record flooding that devastated major portions of the nation, wiping out communities and livelihoods along with them.

Faced with death from violence or starvation, families travel miles on foot to reach the Wau refugee camps – a last outpost of hope for beleaguered and traumatized victims.

According to a report by Amnesty International, “Traveling with just the clothes on their back, many went without food for days in the bush. One woman said her 15-year-old daughter gave birth along the way.”

Families reportedly walked from 3 to 10 days to reach the help they desperately hoped to find in Wau. Survivors said “they had nothing to return to, with their houses, crops, and properties destroyed.”

Transforming Lives

Sudan Relief Fund partner, Sister Anne Wandia, has served in the Wau region since 2015. A steadfast and resolute servant of the poor and marginalized, this Franciscan Sister ministers continuously to people in drastic need.

Sister Anne’s work, in partnership with Sudan Relief Fund, provides families who have lost everything with tools to help rebuild their lives — medical aid, food relief, shelter, hygiene and sanitation resources, utensils, and other basic needs.

She recounts, “The church grounds became so overcrowded and full with new arrivals. Many families were starving and had no access to food. But thanks to Sudan Relief Fund, thousands of households received emergency aid.”

Offering Hope and Healing

The displaced who arrive at the Wau camps have been through untold tragedies we can scarcely imagine. And yet through your support, there is hope here.

Said Sister Anne, “Each time I distribute food in the campgrounds, hundreds of groups thank me. But deep down in my heart, I know it’s the efforts and support from Sudan Relief Fund donors.”

In addition to survival essentials, Sister Anne and her team offer social and spiritual support, including “education, youth ministry, and pastoral work – especially on inner healing, forgiveness, and reconciliation, in order to promote peace.”

Rebuilding a Sense of Community

People in the camps have the opportunity to go to school and church. Attendance provides an important outlet for families beyond languishing in the camps. Productive activities offer a schedule, provide a sense of community and normalcy, and combat depression among the traumatized.

Women and children comprise a disproportionate demographic of the refugee population, including orphans, so access to schooling is vital. Not only to gain self-sustaining skills and prevent the cycle of poverty, but education also plays the important role of reducing violence and tribal infighting.

Says Sister Anne, “The people of Wau who have been helped directly through Sudan Relief Fund are especially grateful to God, and to all the Sudan Relief Fund supporters, who are in solidarity with them to make their life have meaning.”

The Ongoing Need

The reality of life in the Wau refugee camps is that the need is ongoing and great, as Sister Anne described. Often a new wave of refugees arrives with families desperate for help for their survival. “The people of Wau are struggling every day with hunger, poverty, sickness, political instability, insecurities and more,” she shares. 

Please help us continue to meet them in their time of distress and despair. Can you imagine having to suddenly abandon your home and neighborhood to save your family’s life? What if you couldn’t bring anything with you and you couldn’t return? What would you do? Where would you go? How would you live?

Your gift will help us build on Sister Anne Wandia’s life changing work, helping so many traumatized families find the strength to get through another day, and even find hope again for the future.  Please remember the widows, the orphans, and help us to help the weak and the vulnerable.

Neil A. Corkery


Neil A. Corkery President

PS – It’s an incredible challenge to meet the needs of thousands of refugees on a daily basis. Clean water, food, medicines, and school supplies for children are a constant need, among many other resources. Please share a compassionate gift to support Sister Anne’s work and sustain these places of hope for desperate families.

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