(Formerly IRIN News) Journalism from the heart of crises

Kenyi Chaplain Paul – Security guard, South Sudan

Chaplain Paul – security guard, South Sudan
Hannah McNeish/IRIN

Kenyi Chaplain Paul, 43, works as a security guard and occasional car-washer in Juba, the capital of the world’s newest state, South Sudan. His wife, 10 children and a nephew live about 100km away, in the town of Kajo Keji, near the Ugandan border.

Name: Kenyi Chaplain Paul

Age: 43

Location: Juba, although my family lives in Kajo Keji, near the border with Uganda

Does your spouse/partner live with you? No

What is your primary job? Daytime security guard

What is your monthly salary? 600 South Sudanese pounds [SSP] [US$133 at the unofficial rate of exchange]

What is your household's total income - including your partner’s salary, and any additional sources? Around 700 SSP [$155], plus extra income from washing cars

How many people are living in your household - what is their relationship to you? Twelve in Kajo Keji: 10 children - aged 19 months to 18 years - one nephew cast out by my sister's new husband, and my wife. In Juba, I live with my brother-in-law and some relatives and friends.

How many are dependent on you/your partner’s income - what is their relationship to you? 13 family members.

How much do you spend each month on food? 100 SSP [$22] 

What is your main staple - how much does it cost each month? Beans cost 20 SSP [$4.40], maize flour is 20 SSP [$4.40], salt is 5 SSP [$1.10], sugar is 5 SSP [$1.10], and oil is 10 SSP [$2.20] 

How much do you spend on rent? My uncle has a plot in Juba where I stay rent-free. In Kajo Keji, the land belongs to the family, so there is no rent.

How much on transport? I don't spend on transport; I just walk. It is some distance to work. If I move very fast, it is one hour and ten minutes, but if I go slowly it is an hour and a half. Sometimes, if it is late, I get the bus to my house after walking 30 minutes; that costs 1 SSP [$0.20].

How much do you spend on educating your children each month? 300 SSP [$66.60], but 500 SSP [$111] in all is sent home.

After you have paid all your bills each month, how much is left? For my family, around 200 SSP [$44] is left for soap, salt, sugar and maybe some fish for the family in Kajo Keji, where they cultivate sorghum and vegetables for subsistence purposes. I don't save money from this job, but I save money from the animals I rear at home when money is short. Every December, I sell piglets and can get around 600 SSP [$133]. Sometimes, I can sell some goats or some chickens, but sometimes they die. This money is used for Christmas time and to buy the children clothing.

Have you or any member of the household been forced to skip meals or reduce portion sizes in the last three months? No

Have you been forced to borrow money or food in the last three months to cover basic household needs? Yes. My wife was ill, and I had to borrow money for the treatment and also for food as the yield was not good this year.

“My financial situation is not all that good as, when you have to borrow, there will always be a gap and even if you earn, it will be hard to [bridge] gap in places.

"The biggest headache is because two of my girls in primary school are just about to finish. If they complete it well, next will be secondary school, and financing that will be a bit hard for me as my salary is so little.

"I am now washing cars, too, and if I did not have that, I would have stopped my job and gone to work in construction or gone back home to rear livestock, as I wouldn't be able to send enough money back.

"I'm [hoping] that maybe I will be put on the night shift and then, say, I could rest for an hour or so, then during the day I could do other jobs. I am a good mender of shoes, and I would find a crowded place to sit and try to do that. Or maybe I could get a loan for my wife to mind a small business, like a shop selling a few things.

"The best thing is the reopening of the oil*. Actually, we don't benefit from that, but it will stabilize the situation. [Prices] shot up in the market [after the oil shutdown], and it was difficult to buy. There will be more jobs in private companies. In the past, people feared that it was close to war again and were not coming here. Now, maybe some more investors will come.

"The worst thing is land-grabbing. If you have a plot and you haven't developed it yet, someone can just come and take it from you. This happens a lot in Juba, but this also happened to me in Kajo Keji. The land belonged to my grandfather, and when he died, a neighbour to my left side came and squeezed me, then another neighbour on the other side, and people kept squeezing so that now I'm left with very little.

"I think that things will be better [in a year’s time]. If things normalize, if the land is peaceful and business can run, I think in a year's time things will be OK.

*South Sudan halted oil production in January, amid a row with Sudan. Paul spoke to IRIN after an early November announcement that production would resume. But on 20 November, it was announced the resumption had been delayed over a fresh disagreement with Sudan.


June 2013 update

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