Omaha Couple Protecting Orphans In South Sudan

By: The Associated Press, NBC Email
By: The Associated Press, NBC Email

The eyes of the American parents living at a United Nations camp alongside thousands of South Sudanese refugees fill with tears as they describe their options: Remain and risk another rebel assault or fly to safety, leaving behind the 10 orphans who call the couple mom and dad.

For nearly two years, Brad and Kim Campbell have been feeding, clothing, educating and parenting 10 South Sudanese children whose parents were killed by conflict or sickness. Their missionary lifestyle was upended after violence broke out in South Sudan's capital, Juba, Dec. 15. Now the Campbells, their two American daughters and the 10 orphaned children live in an ad-hoc U.N. refugee camp that is low on food, water and sanitation.

"We have one liaison in Nashville, Tennessee and so we call her when we can and say call us back and then she contacts all the authorities that we can talk to, but communication has been just ridiculous," says Kim.

The former Omaha, Nebraska residents are grappling with ensuring that daughters Katie and Kassidy Talbott are safe, and also protecting their South Sudanese children, who range in age from 5 to 16. The family is working with the U.N. and the United States Embassy to try to get everyone to safety.

"I understand they have procedures but I would think in a time of war somebody could do something. If you're trying to protect children then this isn't the place to do it."

The Campbells have been doing mission work since 2008 but really committed to the lifestyle when they sold all their U.S. possessions in 2012.


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