Maryville College student pursues education after treacherous past in South Sudan

Maryville College Junior Betty Asha says while growing up at South Sudan, life was rough.
Published: Mar. 15, 2022 at 10:46 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Maryville College Junior Betty Asha said while growing up at South Sudan, life was rough.

“It was awful, it was difficult. I still wonder how I survived,” Asha said.

Asha said when she was around eight-years-old her father died, which forced her to help take care of her siblings since she was the oldest.

“There were already five of us and I was the oldest child,” said Asha.

Asha said she had never seen a car before, until one day while walking barefoot with her mother to a market when she was around eight years old. She said her mother told her only educated people could get one, so she was determined to get an education and a car.

But at the age of 13, Asha said she was set up for an arranged marriage. After saying no, Asha said she was severely abused and tortured for three days by her fellow villagers.

“I just couldn’t bare that pain anymore. I have all kinds of burn marks on my body. I went unconscious. I just passed out and they assumed that I was dead,” shared Asha.

After a month in the hospital, she said she was cast out by tribal elders, forcing her to live in a jungle.

“With rain with everything, it was difficult,” explained Asha.

She said eventually found salvation from an American Missionary who became her adoptive father who helped her to continue her education.

Asha is now a junior at Maryville College, working on a political science academic internship, where she’s now setting her eyes on a new life goal.

“An international representative, like a delegate. I want to either be on the U.N Committee something like that but connected to the legal field. I’m just overwhelmed with joy, because first of all I have never seen myself being in this work environment. It’s so fancy. I feel like it’s too fancy for me,” said Asha.

She said her mother passed away three months after she arrived in America, but she does have contact with her siblings, who say they now look up to her.

Asha was able to get her car, a Ford Mustang and she’s is set to complete her internship this semester, and graduate from Maryville College next year.

To learn more about Betty Asha’s story, click here.

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