From One Refugee to Many Others: You Have Not Been Forgotten

By Reverend Thon Moses Chol

June 13, 2016

I grew up as a child in a refugee camp. In the camp you are not just a child refugee, but a child to the world. Growing up, many people were caring for me — people I didn’t know. They came in the form of donations, in the form of treatment, in the form of psychotherapy.

There are many issues to deal with mentally, economically, and socially. It can be hard to tell someone you don’t know, how best to help, but it makes the job much harder when you can’t communicate what you need.

Refugees must be able to advocate for themselves, to share their needs, be open to volunteers and organizations, and they should know that the world has not forgotten them.

A family of the Madi tribe, indigenous to Nimule, recently returned from refugee camps in Uganda are unable to return to their family plots as the are occupied by IDPs from other parts of southern Sudan. UN Photo/Tim McKulka

A family of the Madi tribe, indigenous to Nimule, recently returned from refugee camps in Uganda are unable to return to their family plots as the are occupied by IDPs from other parts of southern Sudan. UN Photo/Tim McKulka

Why I Still Fight for Refugees

Many people want to leave the world a better place than the one we entered. I grew up in a very violent environment. In fact, I grew up with nothing. Today people call me a “Lost Boy” from Sudan — I don’t want to see another child go through what I went through.

It’s difficult for me to see photos of Syrian children, and children from all over the world, living through these humanitarian crises. Who becomes the victim here? The child. The mother. The elderly.

RELATED: “Refugees are part of the human family.”

So how do we end this crisis? We have to work together. We are all human and because of that, and because of the the love we have for ourselves, we should exemplify our love towards others. We need to love our neighbors. No matter where we live in the world, we love each other, we are all neighbors.

Picture of a refugee in South Sudan

Yida settlement in Unity State north South Sudan. Yida has 70,000 refugees, 85% being children and women from South Kordofan from the Nuban mountains and who fled bombardments and violence. Photos UNMISS/Martine Perret.

What Gives Me Hope

Today I am a global advocate for a campaign called Nothing But Nets to help prevent the spread of malaria in refugee camps. They picked a global fight; and it’s not their fight, it’s everybody’s fight. I have hope when I think about the initiatives, organizations, and people that wake up everyday and are focused on how to help refugees. All these people are taking initiative and going out there to do things for others. That’s the definition of community. That’s something we share. Something that gives me hope.

What I’d wish for every child is safety and love. Every child wants to feel loved, safe, cared for. No matter the economic situation, we should always practice love. These children should know that the world can be peaceful. They should grow up knowing that someone cares about you, loves them, that there still is hope. People care for them, and they are doing it out of love.

Watch: Reverend Thon Moses Chol spoke at the Nothing But Nets Summit. See a clip from his video interview.

Editor’s Note: This story was edited and condensed from an interview with Reverend Thon Moses Chol at the Nothing But Nets Champion Summit. Chol had to flee his home in South Sudan as a child because of violence. Growing up, he saw firsthand the devastating toll that malaria takes on refugees. It’s a leading cause of death for refugees in Africa. Last year, Nothing But Nets launched The Million Nets Pledge to provide bed nets to protect refugees and their families across sub-Saharan Africa from malaria.

This story is part of the 4th annual Global Moms Relay, our campaign to raise money and awareness of the issues that impact families around the world. The 2016 campaign has ended, but you can continue to take action by joining our community.

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