Agut and Mapach, of Anuak tribe, grew up in Western Ethiopia outside of the city of Gambella, which is situated on the Sudanese border.

By Brittany Feldott ( |

Refugees Agut O. Odolla, 21, and Mapach O. Odolla, 16, spent this summer analyzing dirt samples and serving pie in Woods Hole, but the quiet lives that the siblings led over the past few months stand in stark contrast to the history of violence, struggle and displacement that they have survived.

Dr. Michael J. and JoAnn N. Fishbein hosted the siblings and have hosted members of the Odolla family at their home on Punch Bowl Drive for the past several summers. The couple met the family through their daughter, Emily H. Fishbein, who works for the refugee service that helped the family resettle in Baltimore from a Kenyan refugee camp.

Dr. and Ms. Fishbein said they did not know much about the siblings’ story when they first visited Cape Cod. “Little by little we learn these pieces, just by being with them a lot,” Ms. Fishbein said. “I think as we build a relationship and trust, we hear more.”

In an interview earlier this month, Agut and Mapach sat side by side on a large couch in the Fishbein’s television room to share their story in full.

Agut and Mapach grew up in Western Ethiopia outside of the city of Gambella, which is situated on the Sudanese border.

ALSO READ For an Auckland Woman, Helping Ethiopian Refugees Is Her missionThe Odolla family is part of the Anuak tribe, an ethnic group that considers itself indigenous to the Gambella region but which is now a minority in the area.

Their father was a farmer, and Mapach said that the ground in the tropical region, fed by the Boro River, was so fertile that their father never even had to water their crops.

On December 13, 2003, however, the family’s day-to-day life changed forever.

“That was the day they killed everybody,” Agut said. “In Gambella, it was Saturday around twelve o’clock, and that’s when the killing started.”

That December, under clear blue skies, the Anuak people were massacred in a genocide that killed about 424 people over the course of three days, according to the Human Rights Watch. Agut and Mapach said that the Ethiopian government and military, largely controlled by the powerful Nuer Tribe, carried out the attacks on their tribe.

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