South Sudan Update

Post date: May 2, 2016 9:52:26 PM

Dear Wonderful Donors,A few weeks ago we received a printout of Overseas Aid Assistance for Mapuordit to the end of March. Once again you have been overwhelmingly generous. It is now “thank you and update time”.

Screened and circulated the world over is the “BAD” news of South Sudan. We are close to much of this BAD news but in this letter we step back from savagery and desperate hunger to send a message of hope. In truth, beneath the terrible conflicts and mass killings, real development and peace building is in place; quiet, unreported, unknown and where it is known, often unacknowledged. Teachers and nurses are receiving excellent training and their newly gained skills will reach into generations to come. Children are being taught and trained. There is a positive side to life in South Sudan.

However, before venturing into the good news stories, let me situate you where BBC WORLD indicates what its perception of South Sudan is, politically in today’s world. Some days ago I listened to an interview between A BBC interviewer and a UN interviewee.

The interviewee was asked to comment on where he believes South Sudan is heading. His response was that First Vice president Dr. Riek Machar wants the Presidency. This Salva Kiir will not allow. So in his view South Sudan is a ship in full sail heading straight to one huge rock!!!!!!

Re the GOOD news.

I quote first from Br. Bill, the leader of Solidarity in South Sudan. He heads a most courageous and highly professionally qualified group of Religious and Lay committed to health and teacher training, frequently in war zones and under extreme conditions. What follows refers to Solidarity’s effort towards training of South Sudanese teachers and health workers.

Within our residential Colleges where we are training teachers, nurses and midwives, we have record numbers – 108 in nurse or midwifery training in Wau and 119 in teacher training in Yambio. In both Colleges, students come from all over the country from a diverse mix of tribes. Within each College, we are successfully creating unity in diversity, a future platform for peace. The students, from many regions of South Sudan, plus the Nuba Mountains (ethnically Southern but officially part of the north) enjoy being together and help one another in their common goal to become professionals in their chosen careers. Nothing dubious about this. It is good news. The Nuba Mountains conflict, however, gets little publicity but the Sudan government continues, as it has done for years, to bomb its own ‘citizens’ in that region. It is particularly serious at the present time with even hospital and schools being targeted. Totally bad news except for the heroic efforts of some dedicated workers who continue to provide services there.”

And from Dr. Rosario at Mapuordit hospital:

“Mary Immaculate Hospital employs seventy local full time staff most of whom have received in-service basic training to auxiliary nurse status by now complemented by a good number of local qualified staff and supported by a few expatriate medical personnel, including doctors and registered nurses and paramedical and administrative staff from neighbouring African countries, Europe and Australia.”

The hospital bed capacity is now 130. Number of out-patients treated last year exceeded 30.000, most of whom were malarial cases. Unfortunately HIV and AIDS Patients are on the increase.

Schools at Mapuordit:

In February this year our schools had made an excellent start amidst high temperatures and severe hunger then totally unanticipated, our County Education Director declared a three week break and closure of all schools…her reason…extreme heat. True, prior to this, high 40s prevailed for days and even weeks; but South Sudan is the land we live in. Students were directed to rest and remain out of heat. So, what happened? Many of our Primary students took to football competitions!!!!!!!!!! By now schools have resumed but the disruption broke a strong momentum that had been set in motion.

However, We live in hope.

Re our own works and ministries in Mapuordit funded by your generosity. In the Primary school registration of pupils has reached well beyond the 1,100 despite the needed increase in school fees. Teachers are in sufficient numbers and Sr. Wendy is making a valiant effort to hold the school together and have it continually fully operational. Teachers were supposed to receive a threefold pay rise this year. Unfortunately their pay today remains at 300 South Sudanese pounds and traded against today’s US dollar, each teacher is receiving US$10.00 per month. Worse still they have received pay for only January and February. Thanks to your goodness we are able to provide what we term “top-up”, without which closure of school would be imperative. Ten teachers are not on the Government pay roll and it is your generosity that covers their salary thus keeping the 1000+++ Primary school children in class.

The Comboni Senior Secondary school, thank God is functioning well with an injection of 5 new Ugandan teachers. Students are responding well to the intensive teaching and there seems to be a good competitive spirit and rivalry amongst students as well as with our other sister DOR schools like Loreto and Atiaba. Last year’s salary disputes have been resolved and please God the old issue will not raise its head again this year. Re public Government Exams…The normal is that at the end of a school year final exams are taken and results produced… Alas!!!!!! Our last year Form Four students have just completed their Form Four exams. The school coped admirably with the extra class of 2015 F. IVs. They were given time and space and support for their study and revision.

In both schools this year our Jur students have returned to regular classes and they feel safe and welcomed. This is a blessing because in recent years due to clashes they felt too unsafe to be in school.

Re Satellite schools…. Our numbers there have exceeded 5,000 students covering over 20 schools. Some of these schools despite all odds and constraints do exceedingly well.

I write this letter from Juba and am currently listening to the arrival of Dr. Riek Machar at Juba Airport. Strangely he comes to form a Unity Government armed with hand grenades, rockets, machine guns etc. We ask prayers “for us sinners NOW”. In hope we go forward and happily do the bit we can as age beckons us on and we respond with courage and good humour. Today week I shall celebrate my 75th…this will be celebrated with great joy and gratitude. Sr. Wendy is still a few years behind me.

Rains have come and a new spirit of hope has been re-ignited. People are cultivating, planting and smiling faces have returned.

Water wells are on hold while drilling equipment is being serviced. One problem adds to the delay in resumption…a recent well is not yielding water and I want this attend to before I place another contract.

Deep gratitude for all you are and do in support of people who are desperately hungry but ever hopeful.

Sr. Wendy Violet and Sr. Rita Grunke

Srs. Wendy Violet and Rita Grunke