Father Figure at Age 15: Achiek’s Story of Survival

By: Berlinda Fortin

Fifteen-year-old Achiek says he is now the father of his household. It’s not an easy burden, but it’s one he has taken up since his father was killed trying to defend the family home in South Sudan.

Achiek and his younger siblings managed to escape the gunmen with their mother. They made the gruelling journey to the Uganda border on foot. There was no time to collect any belongings, and no strength to carry them. They fled empty-handed and fearful.

His siblings are too young to recall what happened, but he remembers.

Now living in Kirandongo refugee camp in Uganda, he says he is grateful to have an opportunity for education, because he cannot support his family without it.

“I’m now the bigger brother on top; I’m like the father at home,” says Achiek. “So, after studying and getting my certificate, I will now work. Live the same life as my father.”

Still A Teenager at Heart

Despite the loss he has suffered and the challenges ahead, his sudden grin is like a window flashing open. It reveals the teenaged boy beneath his adult responsibilities.

His favourite topic? Football.

“I can play football very well. I am training and stretching at every opportunity… I am happy just to be playing here with my brothers at the school, telling stories to them.”

But it’s food that really gets him talking. The struggle for enough food in Kirandongo is ever-present.

That’s another reason why he loves coming to school. There is the opportunity to learn and be equipped for the future. But there is also the opportunity to eat. The two are linked, in Achiek’s mind.

“If there is no food, there is no way of participating in class. I just sleep. But when there is food I can participate well, and then I’m happy.”

That’s why Feed The Hungry is on the ground, providing fortified, nutritious meals to protect children like Achiek against malnutrition, help them to grow, and give them the energy they need to concentrate in the classroom.

And you can help to feed a child like Achiek.

Your gift of just $6 on Take Away Hunger Day will feed a hungry child at school for a whole month.

More than a meal, you’ll be helping to provide children with an education and the opportunity to know God’s love!

Achiek’s dream is to become a doctor. His experiences of war and the COVID-19 pandemic have shown him how important doctors are in their communities.

“Doctors help people,” he says, simply. “If you fall sick, they will go and treat you. At the outbreak of COVID-19, doctors were the ones who helped people. And I would like to also be helping people like that.”

And, as he helps his neighbours, he will also be helping his family. Providing for them, as he knows his father would want him to.

Article supplied with thanks to Feed The Hungry.

Images: Supplied