Solidarity with South Sudan (Solidarity) is a consortium of more than 200 religious congregations.
Dear Friends and Supporters
I just wanted to take this opportunity to introduce myself and update you briefly on the developments that have recently been taking place in Solidarity with South Sudan. My name is Paul Smyth, a member of the Claretian Missionaries. Having served for the last four years as Vice President of Solidarity with South Sudan I was asked last November to assume the Presidency.
In my four years collaborating with the project I have had the opportunity to witness the tremendous work that we, as Religious together, have been able to accomplish for the people in South Sudan. It is is truly a Good News story. Just as Christ was came into a world of suffering and senseless death and pitched his tent among us, the Solidarity project has allowed Religious from around the world, to be present with this people who are still suffering the consequences of the culture of civil war that has caused them so much pain and suffering. While the world looks on trying to implement quick solutions to deeply rooted historical problems that have left the people and society deeply wounded, members of solidarity seek to be a reconciling, healing presence with the people, remaining with them during the times of upheaval that can lead other development agencies to recall their members.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank each one of you and your congregation for your support, in whatever forms it may have found expression: spiritual, financial or personnel. At the same time I wish to remind you of the great needs that still exist before we complete our goals. As I'm sure many of you will be aware Solidarity with South Sudan was created by the UISG and USG as a response to the request for help from the Conference of Bishops of Sudan. Our primary objective is to establish sustainable institutes and programmes that will be eventually managed by the local church. In just six years we have managed to construct education and health care institutes and establish a variety of pastoral programmes.
We need however to keep before us the fact that our mission is not to simply deliver services, but to prepare the resources and personnel that will allow this work to continue. For that reason I would like to invite you to reflect upon the Parable of the Widow’s Mite (Lk 21:1-4). But in this instance I am not asking you to reflect on your financial resources. I would ask you to reflect upon the personnel that you might be able to offer for a few years of service to the project. We need personnel that not only can prepare teachers or nurses: we need personnel with administrative skills and leadership experience who will also be able to work collaboratively with others to help Solidarity fulfil its mission. I am aware that these are the very people that you want and need for your own congregational commitments, and it is this that makes me call to mind the Parable of the Widow’s Mite. If there is even the slightest possibility of your congregation being able to make someone with the skills we require available I would ask you to make contact with Sr Yudith to find out more about the project to aid your further discernment.
While I emphasis our need for qualified personnel, it does not mean that we no longer require your spiritual and financial support. The recent problems and unrest in South Sudan has in some cases made our task of fundraising more difficult as many agencies do not take the risk of making their limited resources available to politically unstable and violent situations. While it is true that we are incurring costs due to property being damaged or vehicles being stolen we need to remember that the bulk of the resources we are seeking are being invested not in buildings and equipment, but in the very people who are going to be instrumental in the rebuilding of their society once this time of civil unrest passes. While we continue to strongly make this case with the agencies to which we appeal for help, we do also need to continue to rely upon your own generosity. Overleaf you will find details of how people can support us financially, I would ask you to circulate this information far and wide, so that others might become aware of the project and might be encouraged to offer us support.
Yours in Christ,
Paul A. Smyth cmf.
President of Solidarity with South Sudan
MARCH NEWSLETTER click here to access
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday appealed for an end to violence in South Sudan, to ensure access to humanitarian aid and for thepromotion of peace.
In a letter addressed to Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro of Juba, read at Mass on Sunday morning by Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, who is in South Sudan on a mission to pray with the people there, the Pope entreated all parties involved to "tirelessly seek peaceful solutions, enabling the common
good to prevail over particular interests".
The letter, decried "the fighting that has cost the lives of many innocent people and caused deep wounds and divisions which will take many years to heal".
It continued: "We see daily how armed conflicts are generating poverty, hunger, sickness and death, and we cannot remain indifferent to these realities. We are likewise deeply grieved by the dramatic situation of those many men, women and children forced to flee their native lands and live in camps as refugees or exiles, in conditions unworthy of their human dignity and in which they are no longer seen as persons but as nameless statistics".
"We know that without peace there can be no development". Read more…
Since January 1 2014, new teams have taken leadership positions in Juba and Rome.
In Juba, Br. Bill Firman FSC is the new Executive Director, with Br Denis Loft FSC as Director of Teacher Training and Finances and Sr. Cathy Arata, SSND as Director of Communities.
In Rome, Fr. Paul Smyth CMF has been appointed as President of Solidarity with South Sudan, and Sr. Danielle Julien FMIC as Vice President.
In the Rome office, Sr. Yudith Pereira RJM has been appointed as Associated Executive Director.
Sr. Joan Mumaw IHM is the new Director of Development in USA, based in Washington DC.
LATEST NEWS FROM SOUTH SUDAN
The Good, the Bad and the Dreadful
It has been a troubled time in South Sudan since violence erupted in Juba, the capital, on December 15th last year. Order was quickly restored in Juba but not before the violent genie fled the lamp of the capital and initiated death and destruction in some parts of the country. It is a very sad and scarcely imaginable ‘unfairy tale’ that has struck South Sudan.
There have been troubled times in the past but this is by far the worst development since the years of war ended in early 2005. This time there is no ‘enemy’ to fight but South Sudanese have created enemies as South Sudanese have fought against other South Sudanese. All are losers: there can be no winner. Tens of thousands of deaths, looting and destruction have been bad enough but the attacking of vulnerable civilians taking refuge in Churches and UN bases and the deliberate slaughter of innocent people seeking medical assistance in hospital has simply been dreadful. Wide divisions have been opened up, largely along ethnic lines, as former friends have been forced into enmity by the self-interested actions of some of the leaders. Unfortunately, as I heard one Bishop lament, ‘In this country, some place more value on cows than on people!’
Most of our Solidarity members have stayed right through the conflict. Those who were on leave over Christmas have returned. In teacher training we have just completed in-service programmes over three year levels in Rumbek where the attendance, in spite of the conflict, was almost 100 per cent. In Yambio, where students attend from all over South Sudan, a few students were unable to travel from the safety of their home places but attendance was more than 85 per cent of those expected. The 170 teacher trainees are hardy people, poorly paid but greatly appreciative of opportunities presented to them. Pre-service training begins in Yambio next week and we have had more applicants than there are places available.
In our Catholic Health Training Institute in Wau, there is a record enrolment of 99 students who are training to become registered nurses or mid-wives. Again there were many more applicants than we could accept. With deliberate affirmative action, we have managed to increase the number of women participants to 40. On my recent visit, I found it simply delightful to witness the emerging confidence and self-belief of students I had taught two years ago in a Foundation English programme when they were first enrolled. Some of our CHTI graduates have already returned to troubled parts of the country to help and heal those in need. The great good is that the students learn to respect each other and work together, no matter what their tribe or gender.
Unfortunately, in Malakal, a town devastated by rebel attacks, we cannot deliver programmes at present. The town is empty of civilians. Our damaged buildings can be repaired but the deep wounds of the innocent people who have suffered pointless violence forced upon them, when they return, will take a long time to heal. Senseless waste and destruction has occurred and some donors may feel duped that the resources they provided have been wasted. There is no doubt this conflict has been a great set-back economically and in terms of development. At present, all pastoral activity has been suspended by the Apostolic Administrator of that diocese but we remain ready to return as soon as it is safe to do so. Our pastoral team are planning to deliver a workshop on trauma healing for the priests and religious of that diocese
What we wish for is a healing genie to take away the dreadful anguish and pain of this suffering people. If only we could rub a lamp and return the whole country to hopeful times. There is no lamp to rub but we know our return will bring the people confidence and the hope that some day they may enjoy some of the goods many people in the rest of the world simply take for granted.
- Br Bill
South Sudan's government sait it submitted a proposal to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to deploy 10 battalions from Burundi and Rwanda to protect its capital, Juba, and the oilfields against attacks bby reberl groups.
Ateny Wek Ateny, the press secretary to South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir, announced the gradual withdrawal of the Ugandan troops from South Sudan’s territory towards Western Equatoria to continue its mission in fighting the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
New clashes between army members have taken place on March 5, recently caused by discontent about salary payment.
A meeting was called by the Apostolic Administrator of Malakal Diocese, Monsignor Roko Taban Musa, to discuss the future of his diocese that covers the three states of Jonglei, Upper Nile and Unity, the most affected by the current crisis.
The extension of human suffering and destruction in those areas is huge; for now it is impossible to resume any pastoral ministry due to high insecurity, Monsignor Roko said. So he declared a suspension of the activities in the diocese for a period of three months.
More news from South Sudan;
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