Pajok, South Sudan — She and her husband own the only motel in Pajok, South Sudan, but don’t let that confuse you. Pajok is a tiny trading center in a remote area, and there are almost no visitors coming to this tiny trading center 28 miles from the Uganda border. While the capital, 90 miles away, is full of visitors, especially aid organization personnel and U.N. military forces, the countryside in this remote area has few visitors. Grace’s husband is away from home most of the time since he serves in the South Sudan Defense Force. While motels in the capital can charge $200.00 or more for a room the rooms at Grace’s motel go for $11.00 a night.
The civil war in the Sudan extended from 1955 to 1972, and then broke out again from 1983 to 2005. It has been estimated two million people died because of the war, famine, and disease as a result of the conflict. An additional four million people were displaced, often repeatedly because of the war.
Grace lived in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, with her mother during the war. She had no contact with her husband, Joseph, who was fighting in the war, and she went most of the war not knowing if he was alive or dead. She tells of no medicine and almost no food. Even when there was food it was so expensive she and her mother could hardly afford to buy it. They could not travel, go to the farm, or move freely because of the controls put in place by the Sudanese military. Hundreds of thousands of people fled the country and lived in crowded refugee camps for much of the war.
Even today it is hard for Grace to pay all of the bills and keep the motel, which they opened in 2008, open for business. Not only does she manage the motel with her 6 employees, she does most of the cooking in the tiny restaurant attached to the motel. She must also care for their four children, Winny 15, Kezato 12, Paska 4 and Danal 3 months. While she understands the importance of soap, she can rarely afford to buy it.
Grace is another recipient of soap from the Global Soap Project. While little Danal (pictured sitting in the tub) may not appreciate its value, Grace understands that soap can be the difference between good health and illness.