Betty Asha is a 23-year-old South Sudanese student in Kampala, Uganda, who helped more than 2,300 people escape the ongoing civil war in South Sudan in July this year, according to the Guardian.
When the fighting broke out in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, and spread to other parts of the country, including her hometown Yei, Asha decided to shelve her studies for a while and travel to the border to assist affected refugees get to Uganda.
With help from her American sponsor, Chris Hurley, the student arranged for four lorries and 10 motorbikes to ferry thousands of refugees across the border.
In the first week alone, Asha managed to evacuate 800 people from Pukuka village in South Sudan to Uganda, and the number rose to about 1,500 over the subsequent three weeks as the word of her quick evacuation spread.
“When they arrived at Oraba, I was there to pay the drivers. It was also my responsibility to feed everyone to be with them and to see that everybody was safe. I took them straight to the UN reception center,” Asha explains.
According to the Ugandan Prime Minister’s office and refugee agencies in Uganda, Asha managed to evacuate at least 2,296 refugees from the troubled South Sudan over a period of one month.
Among the thousands of refugees that Asha managed to evacuate are her own mother and five siblings. Most of these refugees are now settled at Rhino camp in northwestern Uganda.
Many have thanked Asha for her remarkable efforts to save them from the deadly civil war that has rocked the world’s youngest nation for the last three years.
“I received Betty’s phone number and called her to tell her I was in trouble. Betty told me to board any vehicle leaving Yei for Oraba at the border and she will pay for transport. She really saved my life,” Alemi Charles, a 47-year-old refugee from South Sudan, says.
According to Hurley, an American missionary sponsoring Asha’s education, it only cost them $5.66 to transport each refugee to the border, an amount he says is less than what he spends on his lunch every day.
“I am still shocked by the sheer number of people Betty was able to rescue. She is proof that people can achieve greatness if they are only given the opportunity and support needed,” Hurley says.
Asha, a second year student at Kampala University, has since returned to school and is sponsoring a 12-year-old South Sudanese refugee girl, whom she is living with, in her one-bedroom apartment.
BY FREDRICK NGUGI