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Adut's Story
Sudan
August 1999
Age: 10 years

Playing with friends and making plans for the future is how most of us spend our childhood. But 10-year-old Adut has known little but war, suffering and tragedy.

Adut says she had to watch as her father was killed in 1996, in a battle near her village in southern Sudan. Later that year, Adut fled the village with her mother and six brothers during another attack.

"We were sleeping inside our tukul (traditional thatch hut) when we heard heavy gunfire, and people shouting and crying. It was very bad. The army started to slaughter people and shoot everybody in the village. My mother pushed us out of the house and we ran to the forest," Adut recalls.

They spent the night in the forest, hiding from the violent attack. The next morning they returned to the village to find out what had happened to their relatives and home.

"Our houses were burned down, and the cattle and goats were taken away. I saw my best friend, Alek, lying dead in front of her home. I was so scared seeing her. My mother was crying and asked us to leave the village," Adut says.

The family spent two weeks walking through wild regions and forests. Five of Adut's brothers died on the journey. But Adut, one brother and her mother, finally found their way to a World Vision community development project.

Adut and her family now have their own hut to live in, and are involved in their new community. They were taught how to farm, and Adut's mother works with other widows in the garden to grow food for the community. Like all children her age, Adut has responsibilities. Her mornings start very early, as she cleans the dishes and sweeps the compound.

"When our mothers are in the garden working, I take care of the younger children. Sometimes I even give them breakfast," Adut says.

After feeding the babies, Adut goes together with children of her age to the garden to weed the crops.

Evenings are the special time when children get together to play and sing. As they have no toys, they make little mud toys representing important things in their lives: cows, household utensils, pots, horsemen and planes.