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