LAST year Fr Ladu Yanga fought through government red tape to have his mother Kolorina Martin present for his ordination in St Stephen’s Cathedral, Brisbane.
Now the Woodridge-based priest is facing another fight to somehow get his ailing mother out of the South Sudanese capital, Juba, where gunfights continue between government and rebel forces.
Fr Yanga, formerly of South Sudan, said his sister Angela and others carried his mother 15km through Juba’s dangerous streets at night on Christmas Eve to get her to hospital.
“For the past five years she has had a lot of ill health,” he said.
“In recent weeks, the pain in her back has been unbearable and my sister decided my mother must be taken to hospital.
“When they got her to hospital there was little that could be done – due to the dangerous situation there were few staff present.
“No diagnosis was possible either as no doctors could be found.
“The best that could be done was to give my mother some painkillers.”
More than 1000 people have been killed in fighting between government forces and rebel groups since the conflict in the world’s newest country began last month.
Peace talks were reported to have started between the South Sudanese Government and rebel forces for the first time since fighting began.
Gunshots were heard in Juba on January 6.
Last year, then Deacon Yanga was desperately trying to get his mother to Australia to attend his ordination.
He attempted to get his mother here from newly independent South Sudan on a “Visitor visa – Sponsored Family stream”.
The attempt failed when he could not prove Mrs Martin was his mother.
“There is nothing that can identify her as my mother except what I say,” he said at the time.
“In the civil war, if I can’t grab my siblings, how can I grab a piece of paper (birth certificate) to run with?”
Eventually, he managed to get his mother to Australia in time for his ordination on June 29.
Mrs Martin was permitted to come on a tourist visa, which was valid for three months.
Had her application for a sponsored family stream been successful she would have been able to stay for six months.
Fr Yanga said the best hope for his mother’s proper treatment was to get her out of Juba and to neighbouring Uganda.
“But, it’s impossible to get in or out of the capital,” he said.
“My brother Gabriel who lives in a village outside Juba tried to get in to see Mum.
“However, all roads to the city are blocked off.”
Fr Yanga last spoke with his mother on Christmas Eve.
“She said she was all right,” he said.
“However, later my sister phoned to say they had taken Mum to hospital.
“Due to non-existent public transport they had to carry her.
“Mum was released after three days but is in such pain she can’t sit or stand.
“She just has to lie on her back.”
Fr Yanga said the situation for the people in South Sudan’s capital was critical.
“People are locked in their homes and are rapidly running out of food and water,” he said.
“They can’t visit markets to buy food and many suburbs in Juba are without running water.
“Many can only get water from government collection points.
“We can only hope and pray the situation improves.”