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What 5 Years Old Looks Like in South Sudan - #SouthSudan




You may recognize that photo of Madison but it's not very clear and it was done purposely because this post isn't about her. Madison is 4 and we are currently celebrating our 4th of July celebrations. Madison is happy with not a care in the world. She has been able to go to school, has tons of toys that she very rarely plays with, owns an iPad, drinks water that is delivered to our home and never has to worry about going to bed hungry. She is very privileged and although I'm not rich, my kids have everything that they need. Madison lives in a country where the basics are easily accessible and help can be found on every corner. Unfortunately, that isn't true for everyone around the world, especially for children in South Sudan. Today I want to focus on Zeieya who lives in South Sudan and who turns 5 this very month.

Photo Credit: CARE
This is Zeieya! Zeieya lives in South Sudan, the youngest country in the world. South Sudan will actually turn 5 years old on July 9th, 2016, just like Zeieya will turn 5 years old in July. South Sudan's hope turned to despair just 2 years after a glimmer of hope was born in 2013 when the war broke out. Since then 2.3 million South Sudanese have been forced to flee their homes. That's 1/5 of the country and nearly half of the country is in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, and Zeieya is just one of them.

Photo Credit: CARE

Zeieya was born in peace, but has known nothing but war for the past 3 years of her life. Zeieya’s home was destroyed when war came to her town in 2014 and now she helps care for her family's goat. The family is hoping that the goat will eventually have babies so that they can have milk to drink, something that our own kids take for granted. Summer temperatures can get to over 100 degrees where Zeieya lives and there are approximately 680,000 children living in South Sudan who are malnourished. When I think about children going hungry, it truly tugs at my heartstrings.

Photo Credit: CARE
As I mentioned before, we have a water delivery service and have our water delivered. My kids have never known what it's like to not have a glass of water to drink and much prefer drinking juice. Zeieya doesn't have that luxury. With there being not enough wells, there are often times she has to drink dirty water. She has no toys to play with and her favorite game is pretending to grind sorghum to eat. Currently there are 2.8 million people in South Sudan that are in urgent need of food assistance.

Photo Credit: CARE
Zeieya doesn’t go to school, but instead she spends hours collecting firewood for money. Did you know that South Sudan has the highest proportion of girls who aren’t in school of any country in the world? While those statistics might be hard to understand, because you were probably running around on the playground at the age of 5 with your other kindergarten friends, you had recesses and snacks and you didn't have to worry about where your next meal was coming from. However, these are real people facing real struggles, and there are ways that you can help with the help of CARE.



CARE is a global humanitarian organization that fights poverty by empowering both girls and women and they have helped more than 300,000 people in South Sudan, but international funding is only a 1⁄4 of what is needed to help South Sudan recover.

A donation of $150 can provide full nutritional support for a malnourished child while $70 can provide a family with a crop kit so they begin growing food again. You can also donate whatever you can because every little bit of help they can receive will help the children of South Sudan and give them hope for a better and brighter future.


Once again, this is the face of my 4 year old, and when I watch her smiling face, I couldn't begin to imagine her being in Zeieya's place. Can you see your own child not being able to go to school, not being able to get a proper meal, have toys to play with or even clean water to drink? Take a moment and reach deep inside your heart and help the children of South Sudan today. Share this post with your family and friends and let's make a difference in a 5 year old's child life today.

Let's discuss: What were you doing at the age of 5? 

Annmarie John
64 Comments
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64 comments:

  1. I have twins who I am raising alone, and I am thankful for family for helping us through the tough times. There were nights wherein I couldn't sleep because I don't have enough for their tuition. I know it's not as tough as Zeieya's struggles but I know what it feels like to not have enough. Her story is truly moving and I hope they get all the help they need. Every child deserves a bright future. That's why I'm doing the best I can to make sure my twins have more than enough. I'm glad CARE is behind them as well.

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    1. Oh Mai, as a parent I can truly relate because we all want is best for our kids. You're absolutely right, all kids deserve to have more a bright future.

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  2. I can't imagine knowing nothing but war and strife my entire little life. Childhood should be full of magic and wonder not unrest and violence.

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    1. That's true Rachel but for some it's all that they know and I wish I could make things better for them. I just wish I could do more.

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  3. As a teacher, I have a major lesson during the year about potable water. We really go into how lucky we are to get fresh water (at any time!) compared to so many other parts of the world! I truly enjoyed reading this and appreciated the reminders.
    Karen | GlamKaren.com

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    1. Thank you Karen and we should really count ourselves lucky. I talk to my own kids about how lucky they are as well to have all the things that they do. They could have been born in South Sudan and then they would have been singing a different tune now.

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  4. At 5 I was playing on my front steps with my lincoln logs and hot wheels. this really makes me sad to see children suffer at any age.

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    1. It really makes me sad too. At 5 I was outdoors playing with my cousins but I still never had to worry about anything.

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  5. I'm writing about this today! Part of what gets my goat when my kids whine about what they don't have, because they don't realize how much they DO have.

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    1. Oh that annoys me too Tamara or hen I give them something to eat and they refuse it and say "there's nothing to eat" when there's a refrigerator filled with food. If only they can be in these kids shoes for a day, I think then they'll appreciate all that they have.

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  6. Wow. We are truly blessed. I'm so glad that CARE is doing something for the South Sudanese crisis. Thank you for spreading this message.

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    1. You're very welcome Nikki and thank you for stopping by,

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  7. This is a perspective most of us probably didn't think of when our own kids turned 5. It's wonderful that organizations like CARE are spreading awareness.

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    1. That is very true Jill and I'm glad that there are organizations such as CARE there for them too.

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  8. God that is awful, to not have known anything but war for the last five years and to not be able to attend school? It breaks my heart I hope there is a way out for her x

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    1. Well there is a way Ana and you can help with a donation of anything that you can afford.

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  9. At five I was helping my mom at home as I wasn't old enough to be in kindergarten quite yet. It's sad at what children around the world have to deal with.

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    1. It really is sad and we have to be grateful for what we do have.

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  10. It's so sad that we take things for granted a lot of the time, but it makes me happy that there's a way people are helping and that we can help too. No one should have to grow up only knowing war.

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    1. We do take quite a lot for granted and I'm happy that there are people like you and me willing to help.

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  11. It's heartbreaking to see these children suffer the consequence of grown up people self interest. In my origin country, Indonesia many children at the age of 5 years old have to go out on the street carrying their little siblings singing and begging money to survive for a day. Life is bright for some children but not so for others, which is sad.

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    1. Oh no I'm so sorry to hear about the plight in your country as well. I'm amazed at the differences between countries but children should really not have to suffer.

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  12. It is sad that there are children who a suffering in other parts of the globe when they should be running around, playing and laughing. There are indeed things we took for granted. There is so much to be thankful for and I hope children like Zeieya will get the care they need in their young lives

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    1. Yes it is truly sad and we take so much for granted while there are others who can benefit from what we have in abundance.

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  13. I think it's heartbreaking that any child is going without food and clean drinking water anywhere in the world. I'm so glad that more awareness is being brought to this cause.

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    1. I'm also very glad that it is and you're right, it is heartbreaking. I hate seeing any child suffer no matter who they are.

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  14. It breaks my heart to read things like this. Instead of focusing on the little things, I hope more people would focus on children like Zeieya, they deserve the best after all. I don't know what it's like to be in her shoes and for that I am fortunate, but I do know what it's like to be a mother and it's really heartbreaking to see a child like this.

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    1. I think it does break most mother's hearts unless you have no heart at all. :(

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  15. It is good the world gets to know the story of Zeieya and how difficult life is for children like her. They already need to work for money at 5 years old! Good to know that there are organizations working to help children like her.

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    1. Yes it's great to see that CARE is making a difference and no child should be working at age 5.

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  16. Children are the ones who suffers most because of wars and civil unrest. Thus, CARE is greatly recognize to help these children. Likewise, this must be worldwide organization for this purpose. other government officials are also helping them for their shattered lives.

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    1. I'm not exactly sure what you're trying to say. I'm not sure what other government officials is helping but I do know that CARE is.

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  17. It is just a sad mood sincerely speaking. That moment called childhood should be a tranquility, non-violence and enjoyable period. Thanks for sharing

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    1. Yes it should be but are you willing to help?

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  18. It is so sobering to read about the child's life. Life in South Sudan is so overwhelming :O

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    1. Yes it is compared to what we're accustomed to. It's such a sad situation.

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  19. it's sad i know. it's such a common saying that children are the future of our world, and yet it is painful to see that these children might not have a future at all. our local tv sends tv hosts and artistes to uncover the stories behind child labour in the poor areas of many other countries and it's really saddening to watch.

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    1. Oh I can't even begin to imagine because when I was her age I didn't have a care in the world. I didn't worry about what I had to eat or drink because it was always available. I'm really hoping that lots will find it within themselves to help.

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  20. I have worked with several non-profits and have been exposed to the likes of Zeieya. Those were fulfilling jobs but often I get to see so much misery that I would wish war, poverty and strife will just suddenly end and children affected by such will be able to live in a good environment. But that's not how it is and they need all the help that we can offer them. Even here in our country, there are many children caught between conflicts of opposing forces.

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    1. It's really sad to see any child no matter where they are living like that. I do hope that a change come about really soon.

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  21. They've been through a lot because of the war. It's nice to see that there are organization trying to uplift them.

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    1. Yes they have been and it saddens my heart to see children going through so much more than what we adults have ever experienced in our lifetime.

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  22. This is a very meaningful article. How did you get permission to post about the girl, Zeieya? I had an adopted kid with World Vision and I was not allowed to share anything about her in public... :(

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    1. Since I'm doing this with CARE, an entirely different organization, it's different. I'm happy to hear that you adopted a child who needed your help too.

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  23. When we are enjoying in our own world, we seem to forget about those who really need our help and support. 5 years old is definitely not the age to do all chores rather than going to school

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    1. You're right, it definitely isn't and I'm only more than happy to share her story so others can see and help.

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  24. I'm reminded of the quote - ‘Wars are created by politicians, compounded by bureaucrats and fought by soldiers.’ - Anon. There are no good outcomes of war. We need peace!

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    1. There really are no good outcomes no matter how justified we feel in those wars. We do need peace.

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  25. Ughhhhh things like this just break my heart! At 5 I was playing with my Barbie dolls, not worrying about everyday adult life tasks :-/

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    1. Oh I was outside playing with friends with not a worry in the world. I can't see my own little one doing even half of what these children are going through.

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  26. This is really heartbreaking but we often forget all these things in our daily life while enjoying everything. Childhood should be same for all the kids and they are all adorable.

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    1. Childhood should be memorable not filled with strife. I hope that there is an outpouring of help and that they get all the help they need.

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  27. It really makes me rethink all that I have and how fortunate I am when I hear the stories of children like Zeieya. It puts a whole new perspective on life, and makes you want to donate and do whatever you can. Thank you for sharing her story.

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    1. Thank you Teresa. We complain about every little thing but there are so many out there so have so much less.

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  28. Beautiful. I do hope people will be more compassionate to share and donate to communities such as South Sudan so kids like her will get the nutrition that a 5year old should be receiving

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    1. I do hope so myself to April. I really do!

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  29. The clean water really gets to me, something so basic, and that we take for granted every day, and it is scarce in so much of the world. As far as what I was doing when I was 5? I think I was picking lilacs from my mom's bushes, putting them in bags with grass and sea shells we found in the yard and selling it to the neighbor's as "potpourri." Mostly paid in oranges, but once in a while I would get a quarter :-)

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    1. Yes it astounds me at what we take for granted. I'm so sorry to see that she's going through this and my only hope/wish for her is that things will get better eventually.

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  30. Wow what a great reflection of how blessed we are and the huge difference it makes for where we live in the world. Thanks for sharing such a great perspective, I am not super familiar about South Sudan but I know that my children and myself at age 5 were for sure very blessed.

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    1. Yes we are blessed and I can't stress it enough with my own kids.

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  31. It is really unfortunate that a lot of children in poor countries in the world do not enjoy the same things that our children do. This is why I always teach my little to always be thankful of what he has and to take care of his toys. I guess it is also up to us mums to educate our children about the ways we can help and reach out to the people who are in need.

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    1. Yes it really is and kids no matter where they live, should live equally the same. If we can all help and make their lives easier, that's what we should do!

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  32. Stories like this break my heart but let me say something. I feel these kind of campaigns always want to target us {common people} which is fine but I think we need to do a huge initiative that includes celebrities giving some money to build up places such as S.Sudan and help people get clean water. Its not right and I really want to go to Africa real soon and do some kind of real hands on initative program to help these people. I dont have much but I pray that a huge donation by someone who truly has it can save not just S.Sudan but many 3rd world countries because we should all have access to clean water. Thats a human right. God bless this baby and the people of her city!

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    1. Thank you Kiwi, I'm hoping that one of those celebrity would donate a big chunk of their money to help them too but in the meantime we can also do our part.

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