Attempting to express personal feelings of hope, joy, pain and in many ways admiration is difficult as we experience life in the new country of South Sudan. How incredible to witness the beginning of a nation. An unassuming, beautiful population of hopeful, yet unfathomable needy people with primitive cultivation abilities. Children of all ages are seen seemingly, wandering on the side of the dusty clay roads. Goats, cows and an occasional dog roams, unleashed in the marketplace. Women, many with small children, man rows of vegetables and grains in hopes of securing enough money to keep their families afloat.
We have truly been awakened with “eyes wide open” as the DS of South Sudan for the East African Conference, Fred Dearing and his wife, Libby have introduced us to the realities of this new land. We have spent hours and days visiting the most vulnerable of all, the village orphans and children. Multitudes of children are being cared for by dedicated, yet under equipped caregivers.
As a Methodist team of fact finders, the resounding requests are not for handouts or quick fix temporary relief efforts. They desire knowledge! Their tribal heritage and culture is based on generations of primitive ideologies and traditions that are not conducive to development, progression and sustainability of their people. They desire knowledge to help themselves form effective healthcare, agricultural practices and accountable leadership. The daily encounters with the harsh reality are heart wrenching, but not hopeless. The need is great and so is the faith, desire and the ability of the people, if given the chance.
War is the past for the older generation, but the multitudes of children and young adults can look forward to peace, prosperity and self preservation as they grow through knowledge that only education can provide.