The streets of Nairobi are filled with masses of people, cars and market booths that offer everything from colorful cloths to live chickens. When, at points during the day, the sky above Kenya opens up with quarter-size droplets of rain, activity grinds to a halt. Roads flood and wash out, traffic piles up and people hurry for shelter. To an outsider, it is dizzying chaos.
Nydia Kosti Manibe left her home and husband in war-torn South Sudan and entered this scene alone as a refugee in 1991. Standing in the large courtyard of the Sudanese Women's Association in Nairobi, Manibe shares the story of her firstborn child, the reason she came to Kenya.
Manibe became pregnant in 1991. With her history of miscarriages, Manibe and her husband, Lui, realized she needed medical attention that was unavailable in South Sudan. Journeying hundreds of miles alone, she crossed into Kenya, where she delivered a son. Later, her husband joined her.
Manibe joined SWAN to meet other Sudanese women in Nairobi. "A lot of the Sudanese women gather — both Christian and Muslim — in times of happiness and sadness," she says, explaining how the women support each other with strategies for day-to-day living in Nairobi. Originally the refugee women formed SWAN to provide a safe haven from the discrimination, crimes and heartaches they faced in Nairobi's slums.
While she can't yet safely return to Sudan, Manibe is doing all she can for her homeland. Through a SWAN scholarship, she completed a secretarial course in 1996. Now she works for the New Sudan Education Association, typesetting textbooks for schools in liberated areas of Sudan.
Manibe dreams of "an end to this current war, so that we, the Sudanese people, can develop our country from poverty." She believes her dream can be realized through "reconciliation [and] determination."
© 2014 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers