Thomas met me in the parking lot of the office of
the Bishops’ Conference in Nairobi, Kenya. He had just fled from Torit in
Southern Sudan. He told me his sad, sad story as a political refugee. He was
34-years-old. Since Thomas was one-year-old his whole life had been spent
surrounded by the turmoil of a Civil War.
His story went like this. Sudan gained independence
in 1956. Thomas was born in Southern Sudan in 1957. In 1958 there was an Army
coup. Over the next 15 years there were a series of military coups, popular
uprisings and economic crises. In 1983 there was a redivision in the South, the
outbreak of Civil War, the formation of the SPLA (Sudan People’s Liberation
Army) and the introduction of Islamic Law.
Thomas was caught in the tragic Civil War in the South. He
was separated from his wife and three children. Even today he doesn’t know
whether they are alive or dead. Thomas moved around to different places until he
finally fled to Nairobi. I remember the Ethiopian proverb that says: Living is
worthless for one without a home.