“We all walked alone when we journeyed to the camps. We didn’t know each other or understand each other, but we ended up becoming family.”
Amel is the guide who will introduce us to the Katiba Banat, her battalion of sisters. She is from Aweil, Sudan, and left to fight for liberation at the age of 14. Almost four decades later, Amel has kept in touch with over 80 women from her former division in the SPLA. Amel shared some details of her time in the military in her daughter Adhel Arop’s award-winning film Who Am I? Now we dig deeper and get to know some of the women who fought with her, as we develop an understanding of the intergenerational trauma of war.
“Even though those experiences were so challenging, I still think back to that time and I miss my sisters.”
Yar is from Bor and left her tribe at 16. Yar is the singer of the group, and still remembers all the songs of the liberation. She lives with her family near Windsor and cares for her autistic son. She is an energetic speaker who carries a lot of emotion in her storytelling. She remembers her time in the SPLA fondly, sharing stories about how her sisterhood impacts her life now, and how even though she lives far from her sisters, when she speaks to them it feels like home.
“We tied our children to our backs and marched from country to country, across mountains, under the hot sun.”
Amual left Bor at 16. Amoul remembers the most significant and impactful events along the timeline of the Katiba Banat, providing an accurate historical context. She speaks of her time in the training camps, the hours-long journey to get rations, and the starvation and dehydration they struggled through. Amuol immigrated to Calgary, where she works with people with special needs.
“I walked barefoot in pain and tears.”
Sarah is from the Bor Region of Sudan and joined the SPLA at 13. She left home with her friends, Alowia and Amol, who kept her spirits up through their walk. The trials Akuol endured will paint a picture of how the child soldiers of the SPLA survived until they arrived at Bilpam training camp. Her energy is calm as she recounts the painful journey, her feet wrapped in cloth to alleviate the pain of walking for months through the unpredictable terrain.
KUEI KUOL AGOTU
AYEN MACH CHIENGKOU