Orphaned at a young age, Joann and Nancy are now among the nearly two million South Sudanese who have fled their homes to escape escalating violence.

Joann and Nancy have endured terrible tragedies in their young lives. After losing their parents to HIV, they were sent to live with their grandmother. When South Sudan’s civil war reached their village, the teenage sisters were torn apart from their family for the second time.

“There were people shooting guns,” said Joann. “They were looting houses and raping young girls.”

Joann knew she and her 12-year-old sister Nancy had to get away from the soldiers, but her grandmother was too weak to travel. The sisters were forced to set out on their own.

“I felt worried because we didn’t have our mother,” said Joann. “A mother is the one who provides everything for her children.”

Joann did her best to care for her little sister, despite having no food and little water. By day they were terrified of crossing paths with soldiers, and at night they feared being attacked by animal predators. Their legs became swollen from walking as they made the long journey from South Sudan to Uganda.

Joann and Nancy (pictured middle and right), have found safety at Bidi Bidi refugee camp in Uganda under the care of their foster mother Joyce (left). 



Finally, they crossed the border and arrived at Bidi Bidi refugee camp, where they were met by UNHCR staff and given food, water, medical treatment and a safe place to sleep.

Joann and Nancy have been fortunate to find a foster mother in Uganda. Joyce, also a refugee from South Sudan, now cares for the girls. Together they are building a mud-brick home and the sisters have started attending the Bidi Bidi camp school.

“I’m happy here because there are no gunshots,” says Joann. “Staying here is good, but it is also difficult – there is not enough to go around.”


Joann and Nancy are just two of the nearly two million people who have fled conflict and severe food shortages in South Sudan since late 2013, and the crisis shows no signs of abating. Thousands of refugees stream over the Ugandan border each day, the majority of them women and children who are especially vulnerable to sexual violence and exploitation. Millions more people are displaced inside South Sudan.

UNHCR is struggling to provide even the essentials to South Sudanese refugees, with only 40% of the funding it needs for the region.

Please help girls like Joann and Nancy receive the care and protection they need by donating to the South Sudan emergency appeal now.

Teenage sisters Joann and Nancy reached the safety of Uganda  on their own after being forced to flee violence in South Sudan

Share this:

facebook twitter

You can help

Make a donation

Every donation makes a real and lasting difference in the lives of refugees.

Organise a fundraiser

Host a bake sale, climb a mountain or do a fun run to raise funds for vital aid.