Before the war I was in school. Class 8. I'm 17. There was a school in Leer, a good school. Fighting reached there in [January] 2014. People from Darfur and the Dinka came. All the houses were burnt. They killed people in my presence. Sometimes when we hid in the dry bushes they burned it. Some were burned alive. Some of us ran and if you are unlucky, you get a bullet. In May [2014] people went back to Leer. Leer was not the way it was before, no good markets, no schools, the hospital was not the same.

I came here in November 2014 from Leer. I'm not studying here. There's no teachers for the higher classes, so I come to the airstrip to leave. I've tried four times now. I didn't go today because the pilot said it is 1000 SSP [$83], and I don't have that. The other three visits I didn't go because other people were going. More than 50 show up each time. Those times it was 650 SSP [$54]. Maybe the cost is going up because they have seen many people want to go. This time nobody went. The plane went empty because no one had enough money.

If I get to [leave], I have my books, my clothes. I have a primary school ID and a result slip for Grade 7. What I want is school. If school was here I'd stay. I'm the only child. All the expectations are with me so I have to get educated and support my mother. She's expecting me to be educated and at least change my life.

By Jason Patinkin

Published on 21st October 2015