03 Aug I am a Testimony – the story of Golda Poni
Story written by Golda Poni of South Sudan
I am not very sure when my parents left Sudan, but I think that it was in the 1980’s. Before the death of my parents, everything went along smoothly and we did not have to worry much because my dad had a very good job in Nairobi, Kenya. He could afford to send us to some pretty good schools. But everything changed in 1996 when my dad passed away. I was only four years old. The exact cause of my father’s death has never been clear to my brother and I, but some people say that he might have died of HIV/AIDS. After my dad’s death, we could no longer afford to live in Nairobi, so we moved to Kampala, Uganda. Life in Kampala was very difficult for us. We were used to a better life, and moving into a single room was a big challenge. My mom could not find a job and we mostly had to rely on my uncle for money. Then my mom also passed away in 2001 when I was nine.
After her death, we were forced to live with another family. Life was very unbearable. My brother and I hated it so much. We spent most of our time crying and wishing that our parents were still alive. We were mistreated. Sometimes we would go hungry for days. I did not know Jesus then, so I basically sat there and cried all the time. At one point, my brother and I decided to escape, go back to Kampala, and live on the streets. We thought that the end had come for us.
But then I met Mama Susan.
Mama Susan had been friends with my mom before she died. When she heard that my mom had passed away, she came to visit us in northern Uganda.
At that time, the family we were staying with could no longer afford to pay our school fees. Mama Susan accepted us into her orphanage in Kajo Keji, Sudan, so we could continue to go to school. My first months at the orphanage were terrible. It was very difficult to adjust to the way of life there. I didn’t know the language and hated almost everything. I kept to myself most of the time and did not care about anything at all. Mama Susan though was very kind to us. She did all she could to make us feel comfortable. I soon made some friends at school and started to adjust well. Through the orphanage, I experienced peace, hope, and love, which I hadn’t experienced in such a long time. It was nice to finally belong to a community that cared about me. It was not long before I started to appreciate life again and had new hopes for the future.
I joined the Lahash Sponsorship Program in 2009. I had completed secondary school and moved back to Kampala for my A-Level studies which would prepare me to go to university. My first sponsors were a Bible study group called the Northwest Home Community. It was such a blessing to experience the love of Christ through that group. I was very encouraged by their letters and messages, and this completely changed the way I perceived many things in life. I learned that it doesn’t matter how far apart the people of God are, the love of Christ has the power to change lives even across the furthest borders. This placed a desire in my heart to try and be an encouragement and a blessing to the people around me who were also going through hard things.
Living in the orphanage definitely changed the way I perceive things in life. I have come to appreciate even the littlest things, knowing that someone out there might not even have this little thing that I am blessed to have. I will be forever grateful for the blessing of an education. Life in East Africa is not that easy, and without education, one misses so many opportunities. I had dreams, and I knew those dreams could only be achieved if I worked hard and did well in school. I was at the top of my class when I finished my A-Levels in 2010. But I was not able to go to the university for lack of tuition. I was in a very dark place at that time. I could see all my dreams kind of drift away as I looked on. Eventually, the opportunity to go to the university came through the Stand With Students program of Lahash, and support from the church diocese in Kajo Keji. It was like having my dreams handed back to me. That was simply the greatest gift I could have ever received!
I think vulnerability is a state in which a person is surrounded by fear, hopelessness, and insecurity. A state in which there is no love, care, hope, or peace. I do not feel like that anymore. To be honest, I look at myself today, and I know for sure that I am highly favored. Through my own experiences as a vulnerable child, God placed a desire in me to help people in whichever way I can. I have come to realize that everything I went through was really a stepping stone toward more hope, peace, and purpose, and that is what I am keen to share with everyone in the same situation that I was in.
Looking back at everything, I think that God really wants to use me to change other people’s lives. I am passionate about being involved with groups or organizations that support the less fortunate in our societies, especially in my country of South Sudan. My prayer and hope for every vulnerable child is that they would walk in the light of God and seek him first, for in him there is immense love, hope, and peace. I hope that their current situations would not be an excuse to give up on life, but rather a stepping stone toward greatness and the expected ends that God has so adequately prepared for them all. They are all highly favored and though it may not seem like it now, all will be well.
Many lives have been blessed, encouraged, and transformed through the work of Lahash in East Africa. I am a testimony of the incredible work that Lahash is doing and I just want to encourage the Lahash family to continue with this great work, knowing that every single day, somebody is experiencing the love, peace, and hope of Christ through their work. Great testimonies are being told through your work, and a very strong foundation is being laid down for the change that we all want to see in the world. God bless you all!
* Note: Golda Poni will be visiting Portland, Oregon in August, 2016. She will be speaking at the new Lahash office center in Portland on August 8th at 7 PM. The public is warmly welcomed to hear Golda speak. RSVP via our Facebook invite or our general online invitation.