Faces of Sudan 1: Dut Akol

In 2007, when I went to Wäramoth for the first time, I met Dut. This was what I wrote about Dut after returning from Sudan in 2007:

Dut Akol
Dut Akol

Dut attends Wäramoth Primary School, where he is an above average student. The difference between Dut and the other students at the school is that every day he drags himself for over a kilometre on his hands and knees to get to school and at the end of a long day, he drags himself for over a kilometre to get home again. Dut has severe atrophy of his legs, though it is not known what this is caused by. This means that he is not able to walk. He has never been able to attend a medical facility to receive any type of treatment. Timpir hopes that with the support of our donors, we will be able to provide Dut with a means to transport himself to school. A normal wheelchair will not suffice in the sandy conditions of South Sudan, so we are endeavouring to find an alternative.

When travelling to South Sudan again in 2008, I had one major goal, to find transport for Dut. Over the past year I had many fantastic suggestions from Timpir supporters of ways of finding transport for Dut. When we passed through Aweil, a large town in Bahr el Ghazal state, on our way to Wäramoth, we found a man pedalling a hand wheeled tricycle. We stopped him and asked where he got his tricycle from, thinking that it may be an option for Dut. He told us that there was another disabled man who had his own tricycle, but he was also now building tricycles for other people with disabilities. This was fantastic news as we knew that we would be coming back to Aweil, so we planned to bring Dut with us to have a tricycle constructed for him.

However, when we arrived in Wäramoth, we could not find Dut. It turned out he had been carried to another village, Ariath, about 3 hours walk away to attend a wedding with his family. Eventually his family came back to Wäramoth, but without Dut as they could not find a way to transport him.

As our time in Wäramoth was drawing to a close, I was giving up hope of seeing Dut and taking him with us to Aweil to have his tricycle constructed. However, the day before we were leaving Wäramoth, Dut arrived from Ariath on the back of a relative’s bike. We talked with his family about our plan to take Dut with us to Aweil to have a tricycle constructed, and the wholeheartedly agreed. The next day, we set off for Ariath. Dut, me and the luggage sat on the back of three bikes while Kuol, the headmaster of Wäramoth PS and another strong local young man pedalled the hour and a half to Ariath over sandy tracks.

Dut Akol in the Ute
Dut Akol in the Ute

Once we got to Ariath, we then had to find transport to get to Aweil which is about 2 days walk away. I ran in to an old friend, Nyibol Aleu, who is now the governor of Aweil North, the area that we were residing in. She very generously lent us her car and driver to get to Aweil, a four hour drive away. Dut bumped along in the back of the ute and his excitement was evident.

Unfortunately we had to leave Aweil two days later to travel back to Australia, so we were not able to see him receive his tricycle. But we left him in that capable hands of Kuot Akech, the headmaster of Wäramoth PS, who later reported to us that he had travelled back to Wäramoth with Dut once his tricycle had been made. Kuot told us by phone that Dut has found a new lease on life. For the first time since Dut was a very small child he has the freedom to move wherever he wants independently of other people!