Hundreds of thousands of people have returned to South Sudan since it became independent a year ago. We are working with our partner Caritas South Sudan and with local churches to support returnees as they rebuild their lives. We recruited local parish volunteers to help to build a transit camp in Juba, using tents and other resources provided by the International Organisation for Migration [IOM].
Gismala Gift, one of the volunteers, tells his story:
Our brothers and sisters in Khartoum have been suffering a lot. That’s why I make this sacrifice. We set up this camp with the International Organisation for Migration.
On the first day we offloaded huge poles from trucks. On the second day we constructed the tents. We sang as we made the tents. IOM would say, ‘Caritas, we need help here.’ And another group, ‘Caritas, come help here.’
On the third day they arrived. They feel they are welcome. We sang to them. Some of them cried because they are seeing South Sudan.
I did Arabic-English translation at the camp clinic. Many people had diarrhea, nosebleeds, cough, malaria. Some aren’t using their mosquito nets. We put up the mosquito nets for them.
We also cleared the ground, cutting the bushes. It was hard work. The day after, you’d wake up and your whole body would be in pain. But we love our brothers.
South Sudan: one year on>>
Please pray for peace in Sudan and South Sudan>>
CAFOD’s Rob Rees writes:
9 July 2012 will be the first birthday of the global family’s newest nation, the Republic of South Sudan. But what kind of party will they be having? Is there reason to have any party at all?
Pray for peace in Sudan and South Sudan>>
The Republic of South Sudan was born out of more than 40 years of conflict between the north and south of what had been Africa’s largest country. The colonial shortcut of trying to unite two regions which had vast historical and cultural differences left a legacy of bitterness and mistrust that proved to be irreconcilable.
The talks which concluded in 2005 with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) included the option of a referendum on self-determination, a step embraced with open arms by Southern Sudanese. 98% of those who voted in the January 2011 elections opted for separation. Thus, just 6 months later, the new state came into being at a boisterous ceremony in Juba: flags were lowered and raised and promises of good neighbourliness pledged. Celebrations ensued across the whole of South Sudan – a vast, landlocked area where the majority of the population are dependent on agricultural and pastoral skills handed down though many generations. Continue reading
I think that 9 July 2011 will be a day to remember not only for South Sudanese people, but for everyone. I’m proud to say that on this day, South Sudan became the 193rd country in the world.
Please act and pray for peace for Sudan>>
Act and pray for the people of Sudan>>
There was not a dry eye in the house after a group of school children sang South Sudan’s new national anthem in full voice, in the small garden of the Catholic radio station, Radio Bhakita.
With right hands placed over their hearts, eyes fixed in the distance, they bellowed out: “Oh God, we praise and glorify you, for your grace on South Sudan. Land of great abundance, uphold us united in peace and harmony.”
It is not strange to see such hope shining in the eyes of the young. What is stranger after the decades of pain and heartbreak is to see the same hope in the eyes of generations past.
The mood has changed here in Juba, as if official permission has now been granted for people to truly believe that independence is real and is going to happen.
Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos, Nigeria
How do you sum-up such a vast country as Nigeria? The most populous in Africa with 150 million people and 400 ethnic groups, her borders holding together Muslims and Christians; the cities with their highways and clubs, versus the villages without water and electricity; the desperate poverty, despite the huge wealth generated by oil – it is a country of paradoxes.
At 52, I’m a proud child of my country’s independence. Some of my earliest memories of this were singing the anthem in school, and being given little green-white flags to wave at parades. I also remember being sent home to get mugs to be given free milk from the new independent government, because they wanted healthy and well-educated school children.
Filed under CAFOD, Nigeria