Our friends from Hope With Southern Sudan joined us again in October to thank us for our support and update us on the current situation in their homeland.
They have begun their 12th year of providing scholarship and have 53 students ranging from 3rd grade to university level. Recently the Bemtoi Diocese was devastated in a conflict that started in December. Literally every building has been burnt to the ground. There are no resources coming from the rest of the Anglican Communion, and so they are asking for our help.
They have five orphaned siblings that were rescued from the streets of Juba in February by the mother of one of their priests who is the guardian of 12 of students in Kenya. They are now there, but they do not have tuition for them ($260 tuition + $125 uniform and shoes each). All of the foam mattresses, blankets and sheets of 20 students have disintegrated and they are hoping to replace them ($1500).
Three of their university students have organized South Sudanese Youth for Peace and Reconciliation, proposing soccer and volleyball tournaments as a venue to recruit and educate youth from seven tribes that are not at Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya. The 130,000 South Sudanese who are there carry all of the conflict issues between the tribes back home. They have gotten the endorsement of the UN in Kenya and are working on being adopted by the UN High Commission for Sports and Development in New York. Initial partnership funds ($8000) have come from the American Friends of the Episcopal Church in Sudan/South Sudan, the Presbyterian Friends of South Sudan, three local parishes and the Merrill Hancock Foundation of the Silicon Valley Foundation. This provided training in peace and reconciliation facilitation for 19 youth, negotiations with the Presbyterian Nuer and Episcopal pastors in both Kakuma and Nairobi to get their support, and negotiations, assessment and recruitment at Kakuma. They are now looking for professional sports team and corporate support to move the program forward to actually playing of the games and the training youth and women as peace makers in Kakuma. They are doing all of this under the leadership of two of the bishops from South Sudan.
Furthermore, they are participating in an Anglican Communion-wide coalition of companion dioceses and NGOs who connect bi-monthly thru conference calls with the bishops and leaders in South Sudan to assess the current conditions of the country and the Episcopal Church there as well as the UN, the US State Department, and the UK Foreign Office to help coordination relief efforts that include Episcopal Relief and Development. The Episcopal Archbishop of Sudan/South Sudan is in charge of that country's peace and reconciliation efforts. Currently 1.5 million people (mostly children and the elderly) are at risk of starvation.
Obviously, this last involvement goes beyond Hope With South Sudan’s educational scholarship mission, but with 12 years of network building they find themselves to be credible and trusted partners with bishops and other leaders in the Church of Sudan/South Sudan.
In conclusion, they ask for prayers for Joseph Liah, who went back to South Sudan last year after getting his MBA. He had hoped to help in the building of a new nation. He had a job in a bank in Juba. When the conflict broke out between the President (Din and former Vice President (Nuer), it divided along tribal lines. In February, he was swept up by the government police (Dinka) because he was Nuer. His wife and four kids in San Jose lost contact with him, and it was reported that he had been killed. He was not killed, and was released last week, highly traumatized. They are looking for frequent flier miles to get him back to San Jose. If anyone would like to donate miles, they would greatly appreciate it.