Rose Konyo Guo, is a South Sudanese teacher by profession. “Instead of teaching in a classroom, I spent 10 years of my life doing humanitarian work. I count myself very fortunate getting into this work”, she says despite the risks.
After finishing her education degree in Uganda as a refugee through the scholarships she earned from her good school performance, Rose taught for two years and finally decided to embark on her humanitarian journey.
In 2014, Rose was part of a team who responded after the intense fighting in Juba, South Sudan. She recalls, “Upon our arrival at the location, the shooting had erupted. We felt bullets all over us. We had to crawl for few kilometers to cover for safety.”
The conflict went on for three days and the team had to be evacuated. “Being a humanitarian worker is not just a job for me. It is a dedicated service that became part of my life. It is not just working to meet your personal needs. It goes beyond”, she says.
“I started working as a humanitarian in 2010 and worked with three other organizations before joined World Vision, this one I have been praying for a long time. This was answered in 2017 when I was hired as an Education Officer”, she says.
“Despite all the life-threatening experiences, I want to serve my community. I believe this is my calling as well as purpose in life. I have faced so many challenges such as talking to desperate people who can get angry at you”, she shares.
As a woman, Rose said the treats can happen any day during a trip to the field. “One time while we were traveling for an activity out of Juba, some unidentified soldiers stopped the car and asked for a lift. I know fully well that refusal can also mean a danger to our lives”, she says.
Instead of giving in, Rose politely explained to the soldiers that World Vision’s policy does not allow them to give in to the request of having armed men in the car. Some of the men grumbled but the others listened to her. Eventually, the men who were stationed in the area respected them and became friendly every time they pass by the area.
“What I went through made me stronger. Today, I can go to places that others will be afraid of. I now learned to confidently approach the soldiers as long as I know what I do is for a good cause. I have also learnt that as long as you treat people with kindness, they will treat you the same way”, Rose adds.
Working in the education program, Rose’s work enables her to support schools where most of the children are from internally-displaced and marginalized families in South Sudan. She helps address dropouts, early marriage and child abuse cases which are increasing rapidly.
A colleague Sally Ndemi Mullei, World Vision’s Education Advisor in East Africa, taught Rose an important lesson while on a field work. Sally refused to drink water while meeting children in an internally-displaced school. Rose recalls, “She told me of the sensitivity of doing it while many of the children around were thirsty. Small lessons but gives us insight how we must act when in front of children in need.”
She adds, “Working with the most vulnerable children especially girls and those with disabilities require us to be open in their need to be heard. A girl once told me that talking to the children gave her the courage to continue their education.”
“I have long realized the importance of girls’ education and I feel sad when girls leave school and marry young. I would love to see the women of South Sudan lead a dignified life. I always share my story to children in school to challenge them not to drop-out and aim for a better future”, she says.
For women who aspire to become humanitarians like her, Rose says, “It is a great job but you should be prepared for the challenges. You need to be ready to serve the poor unconditionally. Never love the money you earn but your work to accomplish your mission.”