At the end of 2010, after more than 40 years of civil war, the people of South Sudan were granted the opportunity to vote for independence. Over 800,000 displaced southerners began the long walk home, most with little food or water, to take their place at the polls.
It was truly remarkable to see how far the South Sudanese would go for the right to decide their future, but the local government was concerned that resources were already taxed by decades of conflict. There was no water to give their people. Millions of voters, many exhausted and malnourished from their journey, would have to stand in line for days in relentless heat without a drop to drink. The governor of Lakes State declared a water emergency two weeks before voting was set to begin, putting the entire process in jeopardy.
The referendum would only be considered valid if at least 60% of the population cast a ballot. The Obakki Foundation met with local government officials and got to work. In five days 40 water pumps at the polling stations were rehabilitated. Between January 9 and 15, the people of South Sudan voted overwhelmingly for independence.
"A true friend is one who comes to you when you are sick. In our time of need, when our freedom was at stake, you were the only one who came. - CHOL TONG MAYAY, Governor of Lakes State