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Get to Know Our Staff: South Sudan, Women Who Are Making It Happen

In the flood basin of the Nile River in South Sudan lies Unity State — a region of overflowing waterways, more and more due to the impact of climate change. Traditionally, most people who live here are from one of two ethnic groups, the Nuer or Dinka people, and live as pastoralists — they farm, fish and raise herds of cattle. 

And yet, post-independence grievances, spurred by decades of northern Sudan-dominated rule that pit ethnic groups against each other, has resulted in violent conflict in Unity State. This conflict has inflicted terrible humanitarian atrocities and internally displaced at least 2 million people, further weakening an already fragile ‘world’s youngest nation’

It is in this setting Anek Sendrella and Muraa Rose — World Relief staff — live and work, bringing lasting change to women and girls amidst the challenges of violence, displacement and poverty. Today, as part of our Get to Know Our Staff series, Anek and Rose share about how they’re challenging the issues their communities face and fighting for lasting change. These women are making it happen, lean in.


Anek Sendrella Lupu

What is your role at World Relief?

Anek: I am an Education Project Officer and provide mentorship in primary and secondary schools.

Can you share a little about your work — what you enjoy and what you find challenging?

Anek: In both primary and secondary schools, I encourage girls to learn and stay in school while also reaching out to vulnerable girls and women in the community to help them find a way to receive education. 

Not only is this work difficult due to conflict, which prohibits schools from meeting, but also because of harmful social and gender norms that devalue education for girls, keeping them home to do housework and other duties, while their male counterparts study and go to school. Challenging these norms is difficult, but I want girls to know their value and change norms around education. 

How do you see your work helping to improve the lives of women in your community?

Anek: Since we began our work here over three years ago, women in the community have worked alongside schools to build holistic and sustainable learning environments. We have built school gardens with varieties of vegetable crops like okra and sukuma (collard greens) where children can learn about farming and the crops themselves. Those vegetables then are sold, and the money helps pay teachers, which grows the teaching staff. 

When looking at education for girls, we must first look at the harmful social and gender norms — child marriage, early pregnancies, forced domestic work and violence —  that force girls to drop out of school or never enroll in the first place. Mentoring and focus groups have been crucial because when this is talked about, we begin to challenge these norms and change can happen.

What changes in the future do you hope to see in your community?

Anek: When a girl has a mentor, they have a person to share their hopes and fears with. This can help give her a sense of direction, to help give focus toward that direction and possible steps she can take to get there. Not only does this help in her career path, but other aspects of her future as well. When a girl has someone who believes in her and encourages her to achieve their goals, it can boost their confidence immensely. 

If you have a daughter, what are your biggest dreams for her?

Anek: My biggest dreams for my daughter are in these phrases:

“Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your values. Your values become your destiny!”

Now, just for fun! When you are not working, what are some activities you enjoy?

Anek: I spend time with my family, and enjoy visiting my grandparents and eating together. I also enjoy learning new skills by attending courses at a local institute.

What is your favorite Bible verse?

Anek: Deuteronomy 31:6 — “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” 


Muraa Rose Adauto

What is your role at World Relief?

Rose: I am a Reproductive Health Officer.

Can you share a little about your work — what you enjoy and what you find challenging?

Rose: In the maternity ward at our clinic in the Bentui Protection of Civilians camp, I conduct daily antenatal check-ups and ensure all pregnant women receive routine care. This work ensures that when the time comes for women to give birth, they can have a safe delivery for themselves and their babies. 

I also lead focus groups with adolescents around health. The biggest challenge I face caring for the health of women and babies is the lack of resources and modern equipment available. There can be complications at any stage of pregnancy, labor and delivery, and without proper equipment, we are limited to what we can do. Even something as easy to do as an ultrasound scan can help us detect obstetric complications early and keep both mother and baby safe.

How do you see your work helping to improve the lives of women in your community?

Rose: My work at the clinic and through focus groups saves the lives of many in the community. By making services available and bringing awareness of these services to the community, women are more likely to understand their risks, take steps to prevent them and maintain their health and the health of their children.

What changes in the future do you hope to see in your community?

Rose: I hope to see women in the community pursue their prenatal, antenatal and postnatal health. With more women visiting a clinic for routine checks as well as for delivering their babies, there will be fewer complications than when all of this is done at home. It will also be important for people in the community to know and learn about family planning to reduce the rate of maternal mortality and morbidity.

If you have a daughter, what are your biggest dreams for her?

Rose: I dream she will go to school, study hard and become a health care worker.

Now, just for fun! When you are not working, what are some activities you enjoy?

Rose: I love storytelling and singing, especially singing at my church.

What is your favorite Bible verse?

Rose: Philippians 4:4 — “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”


Anek and Rose’s leadership is changing beliefs, shifting systems, combating injustice and fighting for lasting change. They are challenging to change gender and societal norms to create a better world for women and girls. Will you join them?

Author Dana North

Dana North serves as the Marketing Manager at World Relief. With a background in graphic design and advertising and experiences in community development and transformation, Dana seeks to use the power of words and action to help create a better world. Dana is especially passionate about seeking justice for women and girls around the world.

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