Amuna’s Battle for Education in Sudan’s War

As a child Amuna fled South Sudan and sold sweet potatoes on the roadside in Uganda so that she could go to school. Today she is our microfinance coordinator in Yei, South Sudan.

Amuna grew up in a Christian home during Sudan’s civil war in the 80s and 90s. Fighting in her village forced her family to flee into the bush where there was no opportunity for Amuna to go to school.

“When in the bush, there was no school but still my brain was thinking of my future. So I went on foot via Congo to Uganda to join school.”

Like so many children at this time, Amuna walked from South Sudan to Congo and then to Uganda in search of safety and a future. However, when she got to Uganda she didn’t have any money to pay for her school fees. Her parents were still in South Sudan, hiding in the bush. 

“I was crying day and night because I was looking for school fees. I went as a labourer to people’s homes, I sold (sweet potato) by the roadside to raise my school fees.”

Amuna’s extraordinary commitment and hard work paid off and she managed to complete her secondary education. When she was able to return to South Sudan she trained as a secretary in the Diocese of Yei, where she now lives. 

Amuna married a pastor and educator, Phillip Taban, when she was 21. They had five children, two boys and three girls. Together they struggled to provide for their family through poorly paid work. When fighting broke out again in South Sudan they made the difficult decision to send their children to safety in Uganda. 

“It was a difficult moment, the children were crying and fearing. They went with my sister-in-law, they stayed in Uganda in the camps.”

Three of her children are still studying in secondary schools in Uganda. One of her daughters is too wary of the violence that periodically erupts in South Sudan to return home, even in the school holidays.


Amuna set up a small bakery business in 2016 (above) so that she could pay for her children’s education.

“It is a hard time for me. I sleep for five hours. When I wake up, I bake my bread, until seven, then I have to begin selling. Then in the evening I come and cook. Then I rest. That is the cycle for me. So when microfinance came in, I was relieved.”

Since being employed as AID’s microfinance coordinator last year (2021) she has been able to provide for her children as well as send some support to her mother who also lives in a refugee camp. She still keeps her bakery running but no longer has to rise so early or work so hard selling bread every day to make ends meet.

“Back in Uganda when I sold sweet potatoes by the roadside, I didn’t know I would be as I am today. I lived a very hard life but I thank God because he is in control of everything. I can now support my children and I can support my family. I really thank God.”