One day you realize that you can make a difference in this world, that you can help others who are in need of support and love. You decide to put yourself aside and make it happen. Monica made this warm-hearted decision and started a family home in South Sudan.
Monica shares her incredible story with Talk360 and explains how she started her family home, how Talk360 was the solution for her, and how important it is to call to South Sudan and speak to the children every day when she is away.
A life-changing moment
When Monica Nyalong Claughton was very young, she and her mother had to leave South Sudan because of the war. She came as a refugee to Australia, where she grew up. But when Monica was a teenager, her mother passed away, and she went through some difficult times. After becoming a Christian, Monica found hope again. She realized there are many vulnerable children in South Sudan, orphans like her, or children with a disability who are all alone. Monica explains: “I thought, hold on a second, why don’t I go back to South Sudan and try to help those children. I discussed it with my husband Daniel, and he was very supportive, so we started New Jerusalem Family Homes. We don’t call it an orphanage because we want the children to know that we are their family. We are here to love them, educate them, and teach them life skills, just anything that every mother or father will do. We will never send them to an institution.”
“Talk360 gave me the possibility to talk to the children every day. Not only just to talk, but to counsel and to comfort them during difficult times.”
Children in need
In South Sudan, there are a lot of vulnerable children who are all by themselves. There is nobody who supports them, who loves them, or helps them. Monica explains: “There is a market in the neighbourhood, and there are a lot of homeless people and abandoned children. I often go to the market and interact with them. If they are hungry, I will give them something to eat, and sometimes we give them medical attention. I’ll go back to the market at night-time, and I drive around in my car. I look in the corners, and I check who is there. If there is a person, I go up to them and have a chat. Obviously, if they don’t know you, they want to run away, so I always try to bring something like warm food. I tell them that they can come with us, that we have a home, and that it is a place that they can call home as well.”
Staying in touch
Monica and her husband are the only ones who support the orphanage, so they often go back to Australia to earn more money for the children. Someone they trust will then take care of the children until they return. At the moment, they have nine children in their care, and they hope to help more children in the near future. Monica says: “The first time we went back to Australia, I tried to look for a way to stay in touch with the children. I tried everything, but it was always a let-down. Until I found the Talk360 app, and I could finally speak to them. I understand that it is not a lifesaving app to everyone, but to me at that moment, it really was. It is important to stay in touch with the children, so they know that we haven’t abandoned them, but that we are only away to earn money.”
Monica has a strong and close relationship with all of the children, so she calls them almost every day. Monica says: “If I wanted to talk to only three children, the rest of the children would ask if they can speak to me as well. So I always end up speaking to all nine children.”
Not just a phone call
Many young children in South Sudan do not have any support and end up in gangs. If there is something that they want to have or something that can benefit them, they will attack other people. A couple of weeks ago, a gang came to Monica’s compound and killed one of their dogs. At that time, Monica was in Australia. Monica explains: “It was hard being away from the children during such a difficult time. But Talk360 gave me the possibility to talk to the children every day. Not only just to talk, but to counsel and to comfort them. I told them that it is terrible what happened, but we mustn’t feel any hatred towards them. We actually have to feel bad for them because if you don’t have any support and you end up in a gang, you sometimes have no choice but to do bad things to survive. It really is a beautiful thing to see that the children understand where I am coming from, even at such a young age. Without Talk360, this really would not have been possible.”
No internet connection
In South Sudan, the internet can be down for days and even if there is a connection, it can be of very poor quality. This means that free services as WhatsApp or Skype often don’t work. Monica says: “With the Talk360 app, it doesn’t matter if they have an internet connection in South Sudan or not. I can always give them a call whenever I want. To me, it is a true miracle. We hope to return to South Sudan next month, but it depends on how much money we’re able to save. In the meantime, Talk360 is there for us to stay in touch with the children. We are beyond grateful.”
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