HomeLetters From South Sudan84. Companions on the Journey

84. Companions on the Journey

Solidarity with South Sudan (SSS) is a deliberately chosen name. After a recent visit to South
Sudan, SSS Board member, Brother Jorge Gallardo, who has been involved in the project
from the beginning, wrote:

Just after the signing of the CPA, the Bishops Conference of Southern Sudan
appealed to the leaders of Religious Institutes in Rome for help. The Union of
male Superiors General (USG) and its female counterpart, the UISG,
together, responded by taking the courageous decision of creating a new
model of mission for religious life. Different Religious Congregations would
commit financial aid and/or personnel in order to provide teacher education,
health training and support programs to assist the South Sudanese people in
their quest for peace, unity and reconciliation. The project was given the
name of Solidarity with South Sudan (SSS). There is a clear stress on the
preposition “with”, underlying the commitment of its members to accompany
the people of South Sudan, empowering and supporting them as they rebuild
their lives, their communities, and their societal structures.

When Sr Ninet in Malakal, one of the pioneers of SSS who arrived here in 2008, attended a
recent meeting in Malakal, the Minister of Education described SSS as ‘best partner’ because
of ‘the continuity and consistency’ SSS brings to its work, offering experienced teachers who
stay on with the people rather than doing short tours of duty. SSS brings a further ‘S’,
stability, to its work in South Sudan. One South Sudan government official remarked that
SSS is the only organisation in all of South Sudan who will be taking teachers into the final
year of the in-service curriculum in 2012. Various persons have remarked that they have
noticed our SSS personnel have stayed through times of civil disturbance and not fled the
country. We have come to be recognised as companions on the journey, not just foreign dropins
delivering a service.

The Sudan Catholic Bishops have been meeting, during the past ten days, at the Catholic
Health Training Institute in Wau. This facility, belonging to the Bishops, has been
redeveloped by SSS and is administered and staffed by SSS, a special gift for the benefit of
all the people of South Sudan. Sr Kathrine O’Flynn FCJ, Board chairperson of SSS, along
with Sr Pat Murray IBVM, the Executive Director of SSS, travelled from Rome, and attended
part of the Bishops’ meeting while Fr Callistus Joseph CMF our SSS Director of Projects and
Fr Manny Ginete CM, a new member of our pastoral team, were also present for most of the
meeting. Nurse training has continued during this time.

Meanwhile at Malakal and Yambio, in our teacher training facilities, 84 teachers, or
intending teachers, have been receiving intensive English tuition. The extraordinary stability
and strength – maybe we could be called ‘Solidarity bringing Stability and Strength’ –
generated by the combined efforts of male and female religious assisted by some lay partners,
justifies our claim to be a key companion organisation on the journey of the people of South
Sudan to build a strong, Christian country.

SSS has nineteen religious Sisters, two priests, three Brothers, one lay man and a lay woman
living and working in South Sudan in teacher training, nurse and mid-wife training, pastoral
initiatives and agricultural projects. Brother Jorge summarises our diversity in these terms:

In South Sudan itself there are 26 missionaries: religious and lay volunteers,
male and female, from 14 different countries and belonging to 18 different
religious congregations living together in 5 mixed communities.

SSS is achieving remarkable unity in diversity: the focus is on what unites not what
divides. Uncertainly and doubt have been replaced by stability and strength. I believe this
‘new model for mission’ is indeed generating new marrow in old bones.

- Bill


84. Companions on the Journey