In May, 1992 the Sudanese government offensive to retake
rebel held territory moved to within 40 kilometres of our rebel-controlled town
of Torit, Sudan. Events moved quickly and it was decided one morning that we
would leave that very afternoon. This was the first time I had ever evacuated my
home in a war situation. Trying to pack the essential belongings and decide what
could be left behind was difficult. But it was made more difficult by my work as
a physician. Due to the insecurity, the local health services had stopped
functioning. Sick people had begun coming to the house and this day was no
exception. Many of the people were very sick and I knew this might be their last
opportunity to get help. So I did my packing in between seeing patients and,
finally, just had to leave so we would reach our destination before dark.
I never thought to look at the things hanging on the walls and it wasn’t until
the next day that I realized that I’d left behind my mission cross. One of the
priests offered to return to the town a few days later to collect the things we
had left behind. I asked him only to look for this cross. When he arrived he
found our watchman had ransacked our home and my cross was gone.
Two weeks later we had to move again because of
insecurity. Loa, the place we moved to, was also a refuge for many other people,
among them our former watchman. When we met I told him I was glad he was safe
but was disappointed that he had taken our things. He felt bad and promised to
try to gather up all our things that were with his family and friends. I told
him that wasn’t necessary. The only thing I asked him to look for was my mission
cross. He returned it the next morning.