S. Sudan’s Native Student Donates Food Supplies To Refugees In Uganda

June 10, 2020 (Thessherald)–A South Sudanese student, Betty Asha who went to the United States on a student-visa, has raised funds and donated food supplies to poverty-stricken South Sudanese refugees in Uganda’s refugee camps.

Speaking to one of our correspondents on Monday, Betty pointed out that this is not the first she has made a charitable contribution to helpless people.

She also revealed that she practically participated in a rescue mission in 2016 and was able to save more than 2,000 people and adopted vulnerable children who had lost their parents during the conflict.

“This is not the first time I’m have helped people. In the 2016 civil war, in South Sudan, I rescued 2,296 people from an active war zone and I ended up with 3 adopted daughters who lost their parents at that time,” she said.

Betty recounts that she always feels sympathetic to others, especially when they are in a very bad situation.

“It is not a new idea to me, I always think of helping others. I’m a soft-hearted person. I feel other people’s pain more than my own pain that is who I’m,” she stated.

She called on the country’s leaders to choose peace over conflicts and steer the country in the right direction.

“According to what I have personally seen from my motherland, Africa and South Sudan in particular and compared to some of the countries outside Africa, I learnt that we can be successful just as any other successful countries in the world if only we can stop wars.”

She explained that prioritizing peace is of the utmost importance.

“Peace is the key to success and peace has to start from home, from the hearts of the individuals leading. My messages to Africa leaders is peace. There is nothing we can do without peace. Secondly, there is no government without people; citizens have to be taken care of and they will be the ones to build the leadership of a country by what they do for their government.”

Betty had to obtain permission from the Ugandan authorities as refugees are not allowed to receive food items from an unauthorized giver.

“The positive impact, ‘is the lives we have saved’ that would have probably been lost to starvations. Secondly, I learned that people see love and care from the little things we do to the community. What I did was extremely strange that most people got freaked out specifically the community leaders and I had to seek for permission from the office of the prime minister of Uganda and the UN representatives why because they have never seen anything of that kind from an individual.”

“If we can show love and care for one another regardless of their tribes, we will be ambassadors of peace and our children will grow up knowing that we care about one another. In summary the impact is lives were saved, unity was exhibited and lessons was learned.”

Original Article written by The South Sudan Herald

MC student, South Sudan native helps support refugees through food

Blount County resident and South Sudan native Betty Asha raised money and organized food donations to Sudanese refugee camps where she helped thousands of refugees escape to in 2016.

The United Nations’ food supply to the camps was cut by 70%

because of a coronavirus lockdown implemented by Uganda in early April.

“It’s hard to get things anywhere because of this unusual situation,” Asha said.

For three weeks, the refugees weren’t receiving any food, she said. Through her efforts, Asha was able to provide two large shipments of food to the camps in April and May.

“African families, they are usually big; each family holds like eight people,” Asha said. “We fed around 4,144 people.”

She said the supplies should last until the end of July.

Asha asked Chris Hurley, her American sponsor, if his company Russell & Abbott Heating and Air Conditioning could provide the funding to purchase the food for the refugees, and the business provided the funding.

In 2019, Asha came to Blount County on a student visa and is studying at Maryville College. She is double majoring in international business and political science. She has ambitions of returning to her home country to work on government reforms.

In 2016, Asha helped 2,296 people escape a civil war in South Sudan.

While she was directly involved in trucking the refugees from South Sudan to bordering Uganda, when Asha wanted to help get them food, she had to coordinate with truck drivers from afar. She told them where to purchase the goods, and when to haul it into the camps.

She found it was difficult to even purchase the supplies because of the lockdown. Uganda is eight hours ahead of East Tennessee, so she directed the food operations during nights, giving up sleep for a week.

“The first time it was really, really hard cause all the work was on me,” she said. “They don’t know what to do. I have to tell them every single step.”

It was much easier for the second distribution in May because her contacts in Uganda knew what to do.

“I was just like watching, I let them lead the whole thing and it was successful,” she said.

Asha got permission from Uganda’s office of the prime minister to deliver food because officials worried that goods could be used as a way to attack refugees.

“It’s unusual; it’s not something everybody does,” Asha said. “They would be freaked out that maybe someone is taking advantage of the situation and sending poisoned food over there.”

However, officials trusted Asha because of her work rescuing refugees.

The refugee camps in northern Uganda are divided by zones, and Peter Amaza, Chairman for Eden Zone, wrote a letter to Asha thanking her for her efforts with the first food shipment.

“The distribution of the food was of great success with a total number of 518 households who received the support,” Amaza said in a thank you letter written to Asha and dated April 27. “We built hope due to your timely support. It’s all thanks to your kind support during this time of crisis.”

Original Article written by Matt DeBow at The Daily Times

Food to My Sudanese Families Caught In World Lockdown and Starving Due To Coronavirus

No traveling, no movement, no visiting, it feels like the world is ending. I spent a month worrying about the global situation caused by coronavirus, I was so much worried about getting the coronavirus, losing my part-time job and dealing with online classes. I forgot to think that there are people out there who are struggling with the coronavirus and hunger as well.

Two weeks ago, I communicated to one of my contacts in the refugee camps in Uganda and he told me that the UN has reduced the amount of food they are giving to all the people in the camps and people are starving to death. I confirmed his statement with some of my Sudanese friends who are working there for the UN – and I got the same information. The reason why the UN decided to reduce the food amount is due to the lockdown caused by the coronavirus. This is a terrible oversight that is terrible for everyone. 

During my evening prayers, I asked God to intervene. It is not easy to be troubled by coronavirus and hunger at the same time. The next day, I shared the information with my Daddy, Chris Hurley, and he gave me money for food for the people in the Refugees camp. I worked to send the money to my close friend Richard Abe, the young man who is taking care of my girls in Arua Uganda. Richard Abe lives 3 hours away from the refugee camp. We worked out a plan of action for him to get enough food to take to our villagers in the UN camp. It reminded me of my work to send trucks into Yea – my doomed village in 2016. I had to find trucks and drivers and plan to get over 2,000 out. This was much the same but instead of getting everyone out, we were planning to get food in. Time was short since they had not had food rations for over 3 weeks. My initial plan was to buy rice but I realized the current price of rice was much too expensive. We bought maize flour and red beans instead and took all of it in 3 trucks. We finally had everything in place but due to the Easter holiday weekend, the money could not reach the banks in Uganda from Thursday to this past Tuesday (yesterday). The effects of the delay worried me a lot and it took a while to get the money to that side of the world. Maybe the delay helped a little due to the UN and Uganda restrictions on shipments into the Camps.

(Understand the camps have over 100,000 mostly South Sudanese refugees living there – and because the war still going on across the border, there is great concern that mean people will sneak poison food into the camp. This is what I had to guard against in my planning of these shipments and also convince the UN and Ugandan State authorities that what we were wanting to do was healthy. I had to write them a formal letter about my intentions and tell them who I am and why I was doing this. On the other hand I was very concerned that since I had plans for food for only those families that were MY villagers – about 2,000 – that we could get this shipment to them without serious problems.)

Since all the stores were closed so Richard was resourceful and got the cellphone number of the store manger written on the food store building and called the manager at home to do that transaction. All while waiting for the money to get to his bank account, he had to look for more food suppliers since the price of rice was greater than we could afford. He had to negotiate prices with them on the spot. He also went ahead and got trucks ready to transport the food from Aura (town) to the refugee’s camps. As far as rules are concern, Richard and Viola (my adopted daughter) could not just show up with food in the camp as I feared. There are steps to follow. I had to contact the camp leaders from Maryville Tennessee USA, and the UN representatives, and the office of the Prime Minister to get permission to give food to the people. We got the permission granted and Richard and Viola got camp women who we knew were strong with strong family ties and could be trusted and involved them in the food distribution process.

The assumed number of family members per household is 8 people but there are families which have more than 8 people. African families are extended families. The Money bought 225 bags of 25kg of maize flour which is equivalent to 5,625kg (12,400 pounds) and 1,125kgs (2,480 pounds) of beans – almost 7.5 metric tons of food.  This food will serve between 1,800 to 2,000 people.

I’m so excited that the food was delivered and disturbed successfully TODAY – April 15th to my South Sudanese brothers and sisters. This is the tough time and we need one another. Helping someone in this difficult time means a lot. Let us support one another to make it through this devastating moment – I hope others help with food as well and I hope the governmental restrictions will be lifted to allow everyone in the camps to again have food delivered.


By the numbers:

  1. 7.5 tons of food delivered last time.
  2. 518 families served.
  3. $5,100.00 cost

$9.84 per family for two weeks of food. (8 persons per family average)

  • $1.23 per person for two weeks of food.
  • .61 per person per week for food.
  • .08 per day to feed people.

28.95 pounds of food per family for two weeks

  • 3.61 pounds of food per person for two weeks
  • 1.80 pounds of food per person for one week
  • .25 pounds of food per person per day

How can we possibly let people starve?

South Sudanese woman who rescued thousands of refugees will study at Maryville College

Betty Asha, 25, of South Sudan, rescued more than 2,000 refugees about three years ago. Now she will begin her studies on an international scholarship at Maryville College in East Tennessee.

She escaped a violent civil war and a forced marriage attempt and helped thousands of refugees escape South Sudan. And now she will attend Maryville College.

The college community plans to gather Sunday evening to celebrate the arrival of their newest student, Betty Asha, 25, of South Sudan.

Hundreds of members of East Tennessee churches and local several civic leaders wrote to government officials to plead Asha’s case and, ultimately, facilitated her entry into the nation. Asha was expected to arrive in the United States Thursday evening.

She was not available to speak with the News Sentinel last week, but a local sponsor, Chris Hurley, shared her story. 

The long road to East Tennessee

Asha’s road to East Tennessee began in the Sudanese city of Yei in 2007, when she resisted days of violent attempts to force her into a marriage at age 13.

“She just kept saying she didn’t want to marry, she wanted to go to school,” said Hurley, who owns a Maryville heating and air conditioning business. He met Asha on a mission trip a few years later. 

Another missionary rescued Asha from the attempt to force her marriage, took her to a hospital for treatment and enrolled her in school.

When Hurley met Asha, she was a youth leader at a church in her home village of Pukuka. It was clear Asha wanted to continue studying and attend high school, so Hurley worked with the Africa Education & Leadership Initiative to sponsor her entrance to a girls’ boarding high school. 

She became the first person from her Pukuka village to attend high school and graduate. 

Betty Asha of South Sudan was the first person from her village, Pukuka, to graduate high school. Now she will continue her education at Maryville College.

“It would be a major feat for a boy in that village to graduate, and totally unheard of for a girl,” Hurley said. 

After she graduated, Asha went to another school in Juba to learn skills like typing and bead-making but tensions were rising between the South Sudanese government and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, so Hurley helped arrange for her to go to college at St. Lawrence University in Kampala, Uganda.

As the South Sudanese Civil War progressed, the situation in Asha’s home village began to deteriorate. Government and rebel forces began restricting road travel and food was scarce. 

Betty Asha, right, poses with Viola, a girl from her village. With funding assistance from Maryville resident Chris Hurley, Betty rescued Viola and more than 2,000 other refugees from a South Sudanese conflict zone.

Saving her people

On summer break in 2016, Asha — then just 22 — sent a message to Hurley, who was back in the United States, asking for help.

“She wanted to get a friend from her village, Viola, out of the conflict zone and into school in Kampala,” he said. 

Hurley sent Asha money to arrange for a truck to pick up refugees she sneaked out of the conflict zone and drive them to the Arua, Uganda, so they could enter the United Nations “Rhino” refugee camp. 

Asha got Viola out, and several more from her village.

But Rhino Camp was overwhelmed, and new entries had about a three-day waiting period. So, Asha rented a warehouse in Arua to temporarily house the refugees and provide them with food and medical care.

She sent another truck back to the conflict zone the next day.

Hurley wanted to continue helping, so he sat down with his business associates. Together, they agreed to keep funding Asha’s efforts. 

“We just said ‘It doesn’t matter, whatever it takes to get these people out, let’s get them out,'” Hurley recalled.

So Asha continued for about a month, ultimately bringing 2,296 refugees to safety, according to the Ugandan Prime Minister’s office and the United Nations.

Then one morning, Asha sent Hurley a message saying their truck was attacked by soldiers looking for women and young girls. The refugees got away safely and eventually made it into Camp Rhino.

But, the incident scared Hurley, who knew the smuggling operation could cost the refugees, the driver and Asha their lives. So, he stopped funding it.  

Asha went back to college and graduated, but, Hurley explained, her college studies were more equivalent to a high school junior or senior’s studies in the United States. 

Asha wanted to go further, and Hurley wanted to help her. 

Betty Asha, left, with Maryville resident Chris Hurley, right, at Yei Girls’ School in May 2012. Hurley paid Asha’s enrollment costs for the school so she could continue her education.

Raising up a leader

South Sudan’s transitional constitution calls for 25% of the government to be comprised of women to better represent the South Sudanese population. 

“There’s going to be a challenge finding educated women to fill those positions because so many are forced into marriage at an early age, not allowed to become educated, and essentially made to live in semi-servitude to men,” Hurley said. 

“Betty’s one desire is to lead her people and change things for the better in South Sudan.”

Hurley wanted to help Asha become a leader for her people, so he began working to get her into an American college to continue her education.

Together, they decided on one in Hurley’s back yard so he could help her when she needed a local resource. 

“I think Maryville College does an excellent job of training future leaders with a global vision,” Hurley said of the choice. “The curriculum recognizes that we live on a planet, not just in a country or in a state or a city.”

At Maryville College, Asha will study international business management and political science. 

“We want her to have a full college experience,” Hurley said. “She’ll live in a dorm where she can meet people and make friends, and we hope to get her on visits to Nashville and Washington to see how our government works.” 

Betty Asha sent Chris Hurley, of Maryville, photos of the children he helped her rescue from a South Sudanese conflict zone about three years ago. Asha sent trucks to sneak people out of South Sudan and into Uganda, where they could enter a United Nations refugee camp.
Betty Asha sent Chris Hurley, of Maryville, photos of the children he helped her rescue from a South Sudanese conflict zone about three years ago. Asha sent trucks to sneak people out of South Sudan and into Uganda, where they could enter a United Nations refugee camp.

Indeed, it takes a village

Getting Asha to the United States was a challenge. The visa application process was difficult.

On paper, Asha appears to have no ties to her home country: she is an orphan, is not married, has no job, no property and no children in South Sudan. 

The government denied Asha’s visa three times.

But Hurley and a college friend, Steve Hillis, started telling Asha’s story to local church congregations and civic groups. Local civic leaders wrote to various governmental officials to plead Asha’s case.

Heather Hatcher, a Knoxville caseworker for Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, sent a letter to the U.S. Embassy Kampala on Betty Asha’s behalf, according to Ashton Davies, a spokeswoman for Alexander’s office. 

U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tennessee, and U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee, also sent letters to the United States Embassy in Kampala on Asha’s behalf. 

On April 18, Asha’s visa was approved.

“My hope for her is that she will see that we have a government and a situation where people are very divided, but we aren’t in a civil war,” Hurley said.

“I hope that studying our government and seeing that it’s possible to have major differences and coexist — for the most part—will be lessons she can take back to her country to help shape its future.”

Original Article written by Brittany Crocker at the Knoxville News Sentinel

Food to My Sudanese Families Caught In World Lockdown and Starving Due To Coronavirus.

No traveling, no movement, no visiting, it feels like the world is ending. I spent a month worrying about the global situation caused by coronavirus. I was so much worried about getting the coronavirus, losing my part-time job and dealing with online classes.  I forgot to think that there are people out there who are struggling with the coronavirus and hunger as well.

Two weeks ago, I communicated to one of my contacts in the refugee camps in Uganda and he told me that the UN has reduced the amount of food they are giving to all the people in the camps and people are starving to death. I confirmed his statement with some of my Sudanese friends who are working there for the UN – and I got the same information. The reason why the UN decided to reduce the food amount is due to the lockdown caused by the coronavirus. This is a terrible oversight that is terrible for everyone.

During my evening prayers, I asked God to intervene. It is not easy to be troubled by coronavirus and hunger at the same time. The next day, I shared the information with my Daddy, Chris Hurley, and he helped me start raising money for food for the people in the Refugees camp. I worked to send the money to my close friend Richard Abe, the young man who is taking care of my girls in Arua Uganda. Richard Abe lives 3 hours away from the refugee camp. We worked out a plan of action for him to get enough food to take to our villagers in the UN camp.  It reminded me of my work to send trucks into Yei – my doomed village in 2016. I had to find trucks and drivers and plan to get over 2,000 out. This was much the same but instead of getting everyone out, we were planning to get food in.

Time was short since they had not had food rations for over 3 weeks.  My initial plan was to buy rice but I realized the current price of rice was much too expensive. We bought maize flour and red beans instead and took all of it in 3 trucks.   We finally had everything in place but due to the Easter holiday weekend, the money could not reach the banks in Uganda from Thursday to this last Tuesday (yesterday). The effects of the delay worried me a lot and it took a while to get the money to that side of the world.  Maybe the delay helped a little due to the UN and Uganda restrictions on shipments into the Camps.

(Understand the camps have over 100,000 mostly South Sudanese refugees living there – and because the war still going on across the border, there is great concern that mean people will sneak poison food into the camp.  This is what I had to guard against in my planning of these shipments and also convince the UN and Ugandan State authorities that what we were wanting to do was healthy. I had to write them a formal letter about my intentions and tell them who I am and why I was doing this.   On the other hand, I was very concerned that since I had plans for food for only those families that were MY villagers – about 2,000 – that we could get this shipment to them without serious problems.)

Since all the stores were closed so Richard was resourceful and got the cellphone number of the store manager written on the food store building and called the manager at home to do that transaction. All while waiting for the money to get to his bank account, he had to look for more food suppliers since the price of rice was greater than we could afford.   He had to negotiate prices with them on the spot. He also went ahead and got trucks ready to transport the food from Aura (town) to the refugee camps. As far as rules are concerned, Richard and Viola (my adopted daughter) could not just show up with food in the camp as I feared. There are steps to follow. I had to contact the camp leaders from Maryville Tennessee USA, and the UN representatives, and the office of the Prime Minister to get permission to give food to the people. We got the permission granted and Richard and Viola got camp women who we knew were strong with strong family ties and could be trusted and involved them in the food distribution process.

The assumed number of family members per household is 8 people but there are families that have more than 8 people. African families are extended families. The money bought 225 bags of 25kg of maize flour which is equivalent to 5,625kg (12,400 pounds) and 1,125kgs (2,480 pounds) of beans – almost 7.5 metric tons of food.  This food will serve between 1,800 to 2,000 people.

I’m so excited that the food was delivered and disturbed successfully TODAY – April 15th to my South Sudanese brothers and sisters.  This is the tough time and we need one another. Helping someone in this difficult time means a lot. Let us support one another to make it through this devastating moment – I hope others help with food as well and I hope the governmental restrictions will be lifted to allow everyone in the camps to again have food delivered.

An incredible journey: From South Sudan to Maryville

MARYVILLE, Tenn (WVLT) Betty Asha was raised an orphan in South Sudan. In her village, it was custom for young girls to have arranged marriages to older men. Betty did not want to go down the traditional path, breaking the rules of her tribe.

“I looked at it as something not good for me,” said Asha. “I tried to resist it, so as a result of it I got into beatings.”

While in South Sudan, Betty met an American named Chris Hurley who was in the region with a team of missionaries. Hurley, a Maryville native, just wanted to help make a difference in a country going through a devastating civil war.

Read the full article here: https://www.wvlt.tv/content/misc/An-incredible-journey-From-South-Sudan-to-Maryville–509531691.html

South Sudanese woman who rescued thousands of refugees will study at Maryville College

She escaped a violent civil war and a forced marriage attempt and helped thousands of refugees escape South Sudan. And now she will attend Maryville College.

The college community plans to gather Sunday evening to celebrate the arrival of their newest student, Betty Asha, 25, of South Sudan.

Read the full article here: https://www.knoxnews.com/story/news/2019/05/03/south-sudan-refugees-maryville-college-betty-asha-student/3617790002/

The South Sudanese student who spent her summer saving refugees

Betty Asha’s phone rings constantly. Each time she picks up, a voice on the other end asks for help, and each time, she springs into action.

Asha, 23, has become an unlikely hero in the conflict that has gripped South Sudan since July, when warring factions of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) clashed outside the presidential compound before celebrations to mark the fifth anniversary of independence.

Read the full article here: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/12/south-sudan-student-betty-asha-saving-refugees-uganda

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