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Page last updated at 06:32 GMT, Friday, 29 August 2008 07:32 UK
The orphans of war

The war in Sudan, Africa's longest running conflict which left two million dead and forced four million more to flee their homes, ended in early 2005 after more than two decades of fighting.

Many, both inside and outside the continent's biggest country, fear that growing tensions between north and south might shatter the fragile peace.

In the last of his reports, correspondent Mike Thomson visits a children's home in the southern Sudanese city of Juba to hear the stories of two young boys who were orphaned by the last war.

Wearai Wearai
Ten-year-old Wearai Wearai
Wearai Wearai says that if he became president, he would make sure there was no war
Wearai Wearai means paper bag. He is called that by the other children in his orphanage because he is so small and light that he risks being blown about by the wind.

One day when I was very young, I remember my father taking me to the place where he worked. Some small children came and we all played together.

My father was a porter, he used to load and unload trucks. Out of the money he got for that, he'd take me to the market and buy me clothes.

I was happy, but then I was told that my father was dead. My biggest memory of my mother is that she used to drink a lot of alcohol and when she did this, she would have horrible fights with my father.

Sometimes these fights would go on for two or three days. She'd fight with everybody. It was terrible. I used to be so frightened.

I remember the last time I saw her, they had been having one of their fights and finally she stormed out of our house. She didn't come back. Soon after that I was told that my mother had died.

Right after the death of my mother, things became very difficult for me. I went to the market and spent all my time there. I lived there day and night until the people from the children's home found me and brought me here.

I met a few other children at the market that had no parents either. We would move around in small groups, for safety, and look for scraps of food on the ground. We lived on whatever we could find. Then, when night came, we would all find somewhere to sleep.

I was five years old.

Wahnei Kellamer
Wahnei Kellamer
If Wahnei finishes school, he wants to become a teacher
Both of Wahnei's parents died during the last conflict. After his mother was killed in the late days of the war, he joined orphans at the local market and survived on leftover food. He was abused while he slept under the awnings of shops.

They used to smear red pepper on my eyes and nose. That is just one of the things they would do to me during my life in the market.

They did that because they saw that there was no-one to look after me or help. I was very small compared to them.

I used to be so frightened that I couldn't sleep. Then, when I did manage to sleep, terrible dreams would come. People would be attacking me, beating me, kicking me, choking me, I would wake up very upset.

I would try to find a different place to sleep, in the hope that these nightmares would stop, but the same dreams would always come back again.

Sometimes I was only saved from them by the police or the soldiers who had come to arrest me. Thankfully, [those dreams] are not there now.

Christopher Manaleeana

Christopher Manaleeana
Christopher is shocked at the horrific ordeals inflicted on these children
Both Wearai Wearai and Wahnei were rescued and brought to the orphanage by the home's manager, Christopher Manaleeana.

He says that their experiences during the war were far from unusual and that many youngsters fared even worse.

During war time, most of the children that we met in the market, they sleep in the market and live off leftover foods.

They are smoking opium and rubber solution and also dipping their clothes in petrol and breathing it.

The military that are on curfew at night, they come and harass these children, threaten the lives of the children, and, the older ones, they are forced to be recruited.

There are actually other things happening that are beyond humanitarian and you see, you don't expect a human being can do such an action to a child.


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