Let us break the chain of ethnic hate, says voice from Diaspora

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sarah chan latestAs the world was celebrating World Youth Day, TCT spoke to 30-year old Zeinab Sarah Chan, a South Sudanese who has lived in Kenya since 1998, on the current state of affairs in her native country. She has been to South Sudan on several occasions between 1998 and now. She was last in South Sudan in August 2015. She has a Bachelor of Science Degree in History and currently undertaking a Masters in International Relations at United States International University, Kenya, with a concentration in Peace and Conflict Resolutions. She believes the solution to problems facing South Sudan is for people to embrace love, forgiveness and reconciliation. She draws inspiration from the quote by Martin Luther KingJr., "We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope." She plays basketball professionally and helps out with youth mentoring and basketball coaching clinics between Uganda and Kenya. Basketball has been an important part of her life, helping her to deal with life's stresses and using the same values and attributes (of discipline and resilience and teamwork) on and off the court. Sarah’s family, like many others from South Sudan, came to Kenya in 1986 as a result of the instability and uncertainty that was engulfing their country. They have lived in Kenya since then. Her parents could not fathom the idea of their sons joining the army after high school, where many young people are killed or maimed. Her parents saw the only way of helping their children gain a bright future was to send them to a foreign country where they would be safe and also get education. Sarah, together with her three siblings, are all university graduates today.

TCT: What would you say about the current state of SS?

ZSC: I’ll begin with sending my heartfelt condolences to the families that have lost families and friends. May God strengthen and comfort you through these trying times.

ZSC: Why did you decide to pursue your education in Kenya?

ZSC: Kenya has provided refuge for my family and I ever since I first set foot in the country in 1998, and began school from the primary level.

TCT: What is the role of the youth in the current state of affairs in SS?

ZSC: We are the future of our nation, we have a task to break the ethnic chain of hate and approach the situation as South Sudanese, have a reconciliatory mindset and Christ-like attitude towards one another. Healing starts with forgiveness, and it’s the only way to move forward as a whole country. I preach love, forgiveness, peace and reconciliation as my recipe for sustainable peace. We have to combat the underlying problems and not issue a blanket solution.

TCT: Are you satisfied with what the government is doing to help those in need?

ZSC: I am not satisfied with what is being done in South Sudan. We took a step forward and a couple backwards. The economy is in turmoil and there is a rise in crime and my heart breaks at the rate at which the number of street children is rising. South Sudan has too much potential to be laying in the rabbles where it is. As the Bible says, the first shall be the last and the last shall be the first. Leaders should serve the Lord through service to their people. If each leader worked as in Col 3:23, imagine where South Sudan would lie in the map of the world. South Sudan has bled tremendously and it is about time to wipe the tears from our eyes, look for home grown solutions, truly lay down arms and reconcile with each other. South Sudanese are tired of the situation in which they are subjected to; no one wants to live on the run. We want a stable home we can call home. There is a whole lot of work that needs to be done at home and South Sudanese are willing to build their home, but security goes hand in hand with development for sustainable peace to prevail. Only the spirit of God can convict the hearts of mankind. Only when we surrender as a Nation and let God be God will South Sudan truly rise and get to its promised land.

TCT: Are you satisfied with what the civil society is doing to help restore peace in SS?

ZSC: Some are diligent.

TCT: What role should the church play in restoring peace to SS?

ZSC: Preach love, forgiveness and reconciliation.

TCT: Has the AU/IGAD, done much to help restore peace in SS?

ZSC: AU/IGAD, I would like to believe, had the best intentions to make the two leaders sign the Peace Agreement in 2015; however, they should have taken in consideration the points that they overlooked that were presented in the Peace Agreement before reaching a compromise; for instance, the disarmament in Juba. If that point was considered, then I believe the recent conflict in July would not have claimed as many lives as it did in a period of less than a week. It is very unfortunate.

TCT: Are you anticipating going back to your country?

ZSC: I’m eager to go back home and give back what I am fortunate to have got from Diaspora.   How will your training help to build your country? Conflict and Peace Studies will come in handy. I will let the Lord lead me with it. I know that God has a great plan for each one of us and hope is not lost. God is not done with us. He is the Author of each and everyone’s story and He blesses us so we can bless others. I believe without a reasonable doubt that He will restore true peace in our hearts, the true peace and joy that only comes from the Almighty. He can turn our ashes to beauty as He says in Isaiah 61:3; “and provide for those who grieve in Zion- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor”.
 

TCT: What, in your opinion, is the way to bring peace back to SS?

ZSC: Love of God, forgiveness and reconciliation, home grown solutions that will solve day to day conflicts with ethnic issues as the root cause.

TCT: What message would you like to pass to political leaders in your country?

ZSC: What is our national identity? What do we stand for? What is our pride and heritage? Why are there a lot of uneducated children and why are children increasingly roaming the streets? If we don’t educate the children, they will learn from the streets. That’s breeding future criminals! We need to strengthen the education system and sector, and give our nation a survival chance in the global arena. The task is too pertinent to ignore.

We need to cultivate our land. The agriculture sector needs to be effectively explored and utilized for the good of the whole country. Women and children need protection from sexual assault.

TCT: What message would you like to pass to church leaders?

ZSC: The citizens of South Sudan are drowning in hate and many have lost their way, thus the Church can be instrumental towards leading the way and setting the pace. Pray, pray, pray with us and let us have revivals. I know we need it as a nation.

TCT: What would you like to tell your fellow youth?

ZSC: Do not lose hope; God is not done with South Sudan yet. Prepare mentally in your respective areas, our time will come to make a difference at home, it begins with making a difference in whichever community you are in right now. Be the change you want to see in the world.

TCT: What would you like to tell those who are in SS, facing various challenges?

ZSC: Hang in there. Hang to the hope you have left. Times are changing and God will make a way. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says that, “No temptationhas overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful;he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

God is the Alpha and the Omega. We will emerge victorious, no situation is permanent and the pain and suffering will pass too.

TCT: Is there anything that you have learned while in Kenya that you may want to take home some day?

ZSC: A World Class Education that I wish upon every boy and girl in South Sudan, and a fair chance to compete without limitations. My parents always told us we are here to study, to take it with all the seriousness it deserves, because one-day education will become our mother and father.

TCT: Any other comments you would like to make?

ZSC: No man is an Island. We all start from somewhere and it takes nurturing and support. Leaders need to borrow a leaf from other leaders. Even in this situation, I give God the glory. We can’t pick and choose when to praise God. We need to Praise God in all situations, good or bad, because all things good or bad work for the good for those who love the Lord. Let the love of God prevail! Love your neighbor as yourself.

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