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what five years old looks like in south sudan

Chianayl - South Sudan

As the United States celebrates its birthday today, South Sudan gets ready to celebrate its birthday later this week.

The youngest country in the world, South Sudan turns five on July 9. Although the country was founded during a time of peace, children born that year only have memories of violence.

Since the war broke out in 2013, 2.3 million South Sudanese have been forced to flee their homes. That’s 1/5 of the country. 5.1 million people — nearly half the country — are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.

Behind these horrifying statistics, though, are real people. Real children who you need to meet.

In June, a staff member from CARE, a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty by empowering girls and women, interviewed five-year-old girls from South Sudan. The contrast between their lives and the lives of five-year-olds in the U.S. is startling and sobering.

Let me introduce you to a couple of these girls. Compare their lives with the lives of your children when they were that age, then please consider making a donation to CARE.

Any donation is helpful and appreciated but $150 can provide full nutritional support for a malnourished child. $70 can provide a family with a crop kit so they begin growing food again.

Chianyal - South Sudan water

While five-year-olds in the U.S. are taking daily baths in their houses with clean water and probably bubbles and toys, five-year-old Chianyal, above, lives in a UN protection camp — like 180,00 other South Sudanese — where she washes herself with cups of water provided by aid groups. She contracted malaria in May, during what the UN calls an “unprecedented” outbreak, and still gets a fever at night. While give-year-olds in the U.S. are preparing for kindergarten, Chianyal has to take care of her baby sister, Nyanen, in the top photo. South Sudan has the highest proportion of girls who aren’t in school than any country in the world.

Zeieya - South Sudan

While five-year-olds in the US eat three healthy meals a day plus snacks, five-year-old Zeieya plays her favorite game of pretending to grind sorghum to eat. 680,000 children in South Sudan are malnourished. While five-year-olds in the US play with stuffed animals, board games and electronics, five-year-old Zeieya has no toys. It is over 100 degrees in the summer, and she spends hours collecting firewood for money instead of going to school.

How can these lives of these children be so different and so much harder than the lives of our children?

CARE is making a difference but they need your help. Please visit the CARE website to read more and make a donation.

Your birthday gift to these children can change their lives.


  1. These statistics are shocking and stories are sad. Thanks for the link to donate.

  2. Breaks my heart to think of children in situations like that.I will be looking into this organization and how we can help.

  3. It really is heartbreaking to see so many people suffering at such young ages. I’m glad we can donate to provide nutrition and crop kits.

  4. This is so sad. No child should ever have to suffer or starve.

  5. It really makes me sad to think that this is the way it is for children of the Sudan. Glad there are organizations like Care who are trying to help. It really makes me think how lucky we are to have the bare necessities and healthy children.

  6. wow those statistics are awful! I am going to head over and donate. Hope to give South Sudan a better start to year five

  7. Lisa Jones says:

    I’ve Heard Such Wonderful Things About CARE This Is A Sin What These Children Go Through…

  8. Wow, thanks for sharing information about what’s happening in South Sudan. It is indeed a stark contrast to how most children in the US grow up. I’m glad CARE is trying to help.

  9. Worlds apart aren’t they? It’s so hard to believe that in this day and age there is still so much poverty and hardship in countries like South Sudan.

  10. So heartbreaking. Thank you for sharing about this important cause. It’s one I already support, as well as already supporting the charity, so thanks for reminding others that the world is so much bigger than us and our little bubble here in the USA.

  11. It’s pretty heartbreaking. I hate that there is so little we can do. But every little bit does count.

  12. It’s always so hard to see people, and especially children suffer. Thanks for the info and link to donate.

  13. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    It is just heartbreaking to see the photos and hear of the appalling conditions these poor people live under. I hope your post travels far and wide and encourages people to donate to this worthy cause.

  14. Lois, Only two days ago there were reports of over 300 people killed in clashes in South Sudan. When I look at these children in your images, my heart breaks. They live in such hell yet can still smile. Thank you for sharing their plight and ways we can help.

  15. I have grandkids that age and it is eye opening and heartbreaking. It also makes me so angry.
    I will look into CARE. I used to donate to them regularly.

  16. Such heartbreaking stories. Thanks for shining a light on such an important cause.

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