Uganda – In the midst of terrifying statistics, a young mother - a biker - struggles to survive

10 April 2019

(ANS - Palabek) - More than 4 million people have been forced to flee their country and nearly 400,000 have died as a result of armed clashes, but also of diseases and food shortages. These are the frightening statistics of the civil war in South Sudan, the world's youngest country, independent for just eight years, but still without peace. Thousands of people have no choice but to flee, and many take refuge in Uganda. Among these terrifying numbers, a young mother struggles to survive: her name is Gladys and she has a son.

Gladys is a 23-year-old woman who immediately draws attention by her height, her hair, her beauty and a smile that always appears on her face. To render her even more special is the fact that she is the only woman attending the Motorcycle Repair Course at the Don Bosco Technical School in the village of Palabek, Uganda. She attends the course with dedication, but outside the school she also works with a small sewing machine, making small repairs, and as soon as she can she rides her motorcycle to South Sudan to visit her mother and son.

The dream of Gladys does not differ almost in any way from the dream of other refugees in the settlement of Palabek: peace. But until peace materializes, the long and difficult day in the field is full of little dreams, such as education, activities with Salesians and motorbike trips to South Sudan to visit her family.

Gladys fled from South Sudan when she understood that staying put could mean being killed at any time, and her will to live overcame the fear of migration. "One day they shot a bus full of people and I managed to throw myself to the ground and survived, but many people died," recalls Gladys painfully.

Gladys is the example of a refugee, young, a woman, mother and a survivor with incredible strength.

She knows how to ride motorcycles and wants to become a professional driver to travel assiduously in South Sudan. Thanks to the Don Bosco Technical School, opened by the Salesians just two months ago, she attends the Motorcycle Mechanics Workshop. "I don't care that I'm the only girl; for me it's clear that I have to know how to repair the motorbike in case it breaks during the journey."

Gladys' dream continues in her son. "I want to give him a good education," she says. She also hopes that one day it will be possible to have a definitive peace "in order to be able to think about the long-term future" and to be able to continue smiling at life, without having to worry about how much time she will have to stay in a refugee settlement.



ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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