Two brothers – two missions, and a young girl caught in between!

31 August 2023|Rosette Komuhangi

Related: Education, Uganda

While many refugees flee due to war, land conflicts, and tribal disputes, Nyalor Angai’s story takes a unique turn. Angai became a refugee due to conflicting missions of her two uncles – one wanted her married off, while the other wanted her to study and have a better future. This conflict of interest of her caretakers is the sole reason she is a refugee in Uganda. 


She is a 19-year-old girl living with her mother in a refugee settlement in Adjumani, North Uganda. Nyalor joined her mother in Uganda to escape a forced early marriage, something that is common in South Sudan for girls aged 15-20. Her mother, a widow, had fled earlier due to war in Juba, leaving her three children with one of their uncles in Malachi, an unaffected area. 


According to her, when she reached adulthood, her uncle, with whom she had been entrusted, organized to marry her to a man fit to be her father. The other uncle intervened, helping Nyalor escape to her mother in Uganda. And has since tried to support them in the best possible way. 


The flight was not only scary but also traumatizing. She is at pains to express the many emotions of betrayal and loss that flooded her then. She says… 

 ‘I felt helpless and very uncertain about what my future would look like.’


Although the reunion should have been a happy occasion, it caused stress for Nyalor’s mother, who sold food at a local market to make ends meet. She now had an extra mouth to feed, but more importantly, a young girl to protect and care for in hopes of helping her overcome the traumatic experience. 

Despite limited resources, Angai’s mother enrolled her in school. Angai excelled in primary school and was referred to JRS for a scholarship by a teacher who recognized her determination and brilliance. She has been on the scholarship for a year now. When speaking about the scholarship, Nyalor lights up, saying… 

Studying is the biggest highlight of my life, and I aspire to become a doctor so that I can escape poverty.
Nyalor Angai

The family struggles to afford necessities such as food, but she is grateful to attend a boarding school that provides meals. She is also happy that scholarship students receive educational and hygiene supplies that her family couldn’t afford. 

Angai has a younger sister and brother. When asked about her sister living with her uncle, she tearfully says she misses her and wishes to be with her. She explains that her sister is young and not yet ready for marriage, but it’s only a matter of time. 


The Girls Not Brides website reports that 34% of Sudanese girls marry before age 18. In South and East Darfur, 56% of women aged 20-49 were married before 18.

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