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Trigger Warning and Disclaimer: the content that you are about to read contains graphic and sensitive experiences of the Sudan war. Reader discretion is advised. Read our full editorial notice here.

Dear future me. I know how you felt during the war in our beloved Sudan and what you have been through, the war that had broken your heart and your dreams and almost your future. I know that this war shattered a lot inside us, and soon it became a matter of survival.

But I want to thank you for your faith and belief, for your prayers and Dua'a every day. For being cheerful, strong, and an inspirer for those who almost lost their faith. You were there for all that and more. I want to thank you for your patience because I know that at present, your wishes have come true and Sudan is now at peace and it's one of the most powerful countries in the world, so you are able to go back to Khartoum, go back home.

That is the message I wrote for my future self. All Sudanese are hoping that one day Sudan will get back like it was before the war broke out and even better. 

 A photo of a flower depicting life. Source: Sara Sayed

The Heavy Decision to Leave the Only Home I Know

On April 15th 2023, the war began and I was confused and anxious, so like everyone else I clung to the hope that this crisis would be solved soon. After six days I started to panic as the number of deaths kept increasing and civilians started to flee out of Khartoum to other states or countries. Some decided to stay and so did we.

The decision to leave was not in our plan and we thought maybe this war would soon come to an end. We just have to take precautions and we will be just fine. This decision, when it came, was emotionally charged, because we were not okay. Every day, I used to wake up to the sounds of bombs and gunshots hacking my ears roughly like a drum reverberating inside my body. I gradually started losing hope, it was mentally taking a toll on everyone and we were exhausted. This miserable situation worsened with electricity and water cuts.

Suddenly, there was a hike in consumer goods prices and we had no power to negotiate with sellers, but to accept things in order to satisfy our basic human need for food to survive. And what happened after that? Did it get much worse? Yes, unfortunately, it did.

Lawlessness, robbery, rape, and kidnapping were quickly getting closer to our neighborhood, meaning that no one was safe, even in their own homes. I know a home is where you can feel safe, but after these incidents, we had to make a crucial decision. The decision was to leave our only home.

People board a bus as they leave Khartoum, Sudan in June 2023. Source: Associated Press

I lived in Omdurman and used to go to my university almost every day, it was a duty-like routine but a fun and comforting one where I could meet my friends, chat, and plan our future dreams. Funny isn't it? Now I miss those days, I miss my friends, university and I miss home. 

It was the second day of the cease-fire when we left to Atbara first and then continued until we reached Port Sudan. We didn't think we’d make it out of Khartoum, all thanks to Allah the Merciful we somehow managed.

"So carry your homeland wherever you go, and be a narcissist if need be" ~ Mahmoud Darwish 

Losses were Everywhere

Knowing that I was going to leave my home, I felt like I was leaving a family member behind because I know my home (and any Sudanese home) was not just a building that one was raised safely in, but it was where all the happy and sad memories lived. All the Eids, Ramadans, and ceremonies, it was about the dreams we built inside. I miss my room, my small library, the smell of the Maghreb tea with my family, and all the details that created who I am now. I left all this behind.

Losses were everywhere. Some suffered the most by losing family members. Our neighbor lost her darling six year old son because a random bullet hit him while they were sitting in their house yard. It was the most horrific scene I have ever seen, and it was somber for the community as we could not find the words to comfort her. We just cried for the tragic loss, no one can imagine how hard it was on this family. They were just happy to be sitting together in their home when the stray bullet shattered their happiness. This scene made me sadly wonder how everything can change in just one second. The very first start of the war took one second, and this second changed millions of lives and dispersed residents, leaving everyone anxious and scared.

Refugees from Sudan wait to collect essential non-food items during distribution in Koufroun, a Chadian village near the Sudanese border. Source: UNICEF/Donaig Le Du 

Recounting my Blessings

The first time we heard a bomb go off it was very loud, and we suspected that everyone in Khartoum state had heard it. For the first time ever it wasn't a war scene in a movie or a news report you watch on TV, we lived inside the picture and were the focus of the action. 

Before this war, I didn't know the blessings I used to have. To wake up and know you still have a home to return to safely after going to school, university or work is the most precious thing. The casual life that you thought was boring is now a wish you hope will return, and peace is the blessing that everyone now understands and sorely misses.

I think this war taught us an important lesson: that nothing is imperishable. Your happiness and sadness are not going to last for too long and appreciating what we have now is the best way to live life. Let us celebrate those who are still with us today and those who are supporting us. We can create happy moments as long as we are together and can remember the precious things in our lives.

A photo of a woman working on her product to sell despite the challenges. Source: Mustafa Youssef Abu Bakr

I know we all suffered, and lost someone or something valuable, but we all need to know that this is not the end, just like what Martin Luther King said, "Only when it is dark enough can you see the stars.” As long as we are alive, breathing, and dreaming then we will be the future of Sudan. We have to be. We have to hang on to hope and faith, pray with devotion for Sudan and raise our hands with Dua'a, and pray for our home.

Sara Sayed Ahmed Osman

Sara is a second year medical student at Alzaiem Alazhari University and also a researcher. She is currently volunteering at Alhashab Organization for Rural Development as a head of the design team. She is a highly motivated content creator who loves writing, photographing, and designing.