After talking with the group of women, we walked further into the block in the camp, and down to a brick built dwelling which had been put up for elderly or disabled refugees. Here we met Opi. We gathered in his main room and he had a bedroom behind a partition wall. As we talked to him, small children came and sat with us.
Opi had led a difficult life in South Sudan. He is blind, and so struggles to get by - his mother is now 92 and so couldn’t really help him. He was originally from the town of Loa, about 18 km north of Nimule on the main road to Juba.
He had very poor eyesight, so had been for medical treatment in Juba many times, but since 2000 he has been blind. Despite his blindness, he used hooks to catch fish. His community in Loa left together and so he couldn’t stay on his own. He was able to get to the border by car. He has four family members, including his mother and his sister, in the camp with him. As we spoke to Opi, he told us that his sister, now 61, was at a funeral service. Her daughter had died the day before in Juba during child-birth and a service was being held in the camp for her.
Opi arrived in the camp in July 2016, but no medical support was available for him. He had been taken to Kampala for a check up where they confirmed that the irises in his eyes are now dead, so he will not be able to see again. He has to rely on people to get water for him, so sometimes it can take 2-3 days for enough water to be collected for him to bathe properly. Opi learnt English when he was still able to read. He had been a Pastor, preaching the word of God in Loa. He sang to us a song in Ma’di, Arabic and English which said how Jesus never fails.
His sister Nora arrived and greeted us on her knees in the traditional manner. She is now Opi’s main carer. He is desperate for a solar powered MP3 audio-Bible in Ma’di, has native tongue, but they are prohibitively expensive.
As we left and made our way back to the vans, we passed his mother sitting on a rug in the minimal shade provided by the eaves of her hut. She clasped her hands together in greeting, but didn't speak. She looked tired beyond even her long years and yet despite her family's sufferings she showed no sign of self-pity, instead she wore a dignified resilience.