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Solidarity in Malakal UN Camp: The Gathering

When I grow up ...

When I grow up …

It was a time of bringing people together of all different tribes, various United Nations organizations as well as cooperation among all Christian Churches that made the Christmas and New Year Celebrations memorable in the camp. The Catholic community just before Christmas built their own little Church made of plastic sheeting, wire, wood and some steel poles so as to have a place to pray and worship. It was the first time since the fighting in December 2013 that the Catholic community was able to celebrate the holidays with singing, dancing at our prayerful Eucharistic celebrations. The children wore new clothes that parents were able to buy in the camp market and a sense of joy filled the air. At our children’s day celebration on December 28, we had a wonderful celebration with traditional tribal dances, plays, music and speeches by representatives of the Christian churches who were invited to come to our church for the first time. It was a show of unity as well as a strong desire to live peacefully together.

The most memorable event was the visit of the Papal Nuncio to the camp for Mass on Saturday (February 28, 2015). All the Christian churches were invited to be with us as well as the various United Nations organizations in the camp including the State (of the Upper Nile State) Coordinator Deborah Sheen. Everyone helped make the day by working together to provide water, chairs, tents, food, transportation and security by the UN peacekeeping forces. The Papal Nuncio began the visit to the camp by walking with us from the entrance gate to our place of celebration. Members of other Christians joined in the walking procession with joyful singing and dancing as the whole camp just came alive in a festive mood of celebration African style.

All that has happened in the camp until now has made me realize that our presence as Solidarity has helped to bring the people together to pray, celebrate, resolve problems and, most of all, to try to live peacefully together in these difficult times.

Mike Bassano MM