I just can’t leave - Bold story of 33-year-old Kenyan woman who has refused to leave South Sudan

What would make you pack your bags and move to a country described as “war-torn” Africa?

#YouthMtaani: The story of Anastacia Nduku Wambua who moved to Juba in 2012 and has no plans of returning to Kenya

What would possess you to even consider settling in a city of this “war-torn” African state that has been associated with anarchy?

Well, one Miss Anastacia Nduku Wambua packed her bags in 2012 and headed to Juba, South Sudan for work.

A few things you should have in mind before we get into the interview, Anna is 33 years old, single and all her relatives are in Kenya.

She tells this journalist that she went to Juba in October 2012 to set up her “mtumba (second-hand clothes)” business. This was a little over a year after South Sudan gained independence.

Anna must have been among the thousands of Kenyan business people who flocked to Juba to set up businesses given the perceived political stability.

She had high hopes that her business would thrive just like the rest of Kenyans who had left the country for South Sudan. 

However, things took a U-turn in 2016 at the height of a full-on war brought about by political differences between President Salva Kiir and the then Vice-President Riek Machar.

Kenyans who had flocked the country for business had to be evacuated, surprisingly, Anna chose to stay behind in the war-torn South Sudan. 

“I just couldn’t leave after what I saw,” she tells this journalists who is a bit baffled. 

At this point, I’m still puzzled by this young woman who has a loving father and step-mum, 6 sisters and 3 brothers in Kenya but still chooses to live in Juba (according to a past Washington report, even President Kiir lives in Kenya)!

“I saw people in deep need of help. At a church I used to worship in, I began noticing some friends who would fail to show up for weeks and when I asked them what kept them from coming to church, they said they didn’t have food to eat.

“I discovered that they were not the only ones, Juba is filled with people who share a similar story. You should see these people, even orphaned children who go hungry and have nothing, it’s just heartbreaking,” Anna says.

The 33-year old was so moved that she gave the church members what she had and has kept on giving until she formed an organization, Ann Nduku Family Care Program.

She tells me that her organization supports over 600 orphaned children in a nearby school and she also helps street children, men and women in Juba who have been forgotten by society.

Do you ever think of returning to Kenya because you are still a Kenyan citizen? I ask.

“No. Juba is my home now. I have a lot of work to do here and there are a lot of people who need my help. My only challenge has been finding donations and even funds to help out but so far I have been able to gather up something here and there to help. I’m a single mother to over 600, I can’t abandon my children,” she states. 

As we conclude our interview, I’m still puzzled by the incredible sacrifice by this young woman in a country that is not her own, a heart for people who are not her countrymen. 

Have you considered marriage and are you getting any proposals while in Juba, if you don’t mind me asking? I asked out of sheer curiosity.

“This one no,” she responds.

Would you like to support Anna in her work in Juba? Reach her through +211926163220 or chanceforw@gmail.com

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