Jesuits Eastern Africa, South Sudan
In South Sudan, we support a number of projects that help increase food security in some of the world’s poorest areas.
We spoke to the Province’s Programmes Officer, Caroline Sanga, about why this work is so important.
Sowing Seeds for Transformation encompasses different projects including, food security, vocational training, education from kindergarten, primary, secondary and teacher training education, adult literacy, and pastoral programs.
Although for many years, the working conditions in South Sudan have been complex, the Jesuits use a unique approach to development which encompasses the principles, practices and values that guide the Society of Jesus.
One of the values is that of compassion whereas in all their works, Jesuits emphasise walking alongside the people they serve.
Their objective is not to simply implement the project and leave, but rather to accompany their participants in every step of the way, even during the difficult times that South Sudan faced over the years.
This work is important because the needs in South Sudan are quite high. Years of violence and conflict from national level to community level has left the people struggling with basic needs such as food, education, shelter, among others.
In addition, the services which are supposed to be offered by the government are not; instead, people rely on the Church and NGOs to provide these services.
The communities in South Sudan, especially women and children are left behind and are disproportionately affected. UNICEF South Sudan estimates that approximately 2.8-3.2 million children in South Sudan (70% of school age children) are not in school.
In addition, more than 60 % of South Sudanese girls are married before they turn 18. The report states only 17% of girls and young women aged 15-24 have completed primary education, and that teenage girls are three times more likely to die in child labour than to complete primary education (UNICEF, 2021).
Many parents do not want to take their children to public schools and strive to get a chance in missionary schools. This is because public schools have limited infrastructure, struggle with teacher absenteeism, lack of school feeding, among other problems.
In addition, it is estimated that 7.2 million people in South Sudan face food insecurity and depend on aid. The works of the Jesuits therefore contribute to alleviating these problems.
The Jesuit works also have higher value for money because they do not have high administration costs. The priests do not receive salaries but rather allowances to address their basic needs.
The importance of missionary works such as Sowing Seeds for Transformation cannot be overstated in South Sudan; they offer more value for money for donors and have a higher impact on the project participants.
The nature of my job as a Programmes Officer for South Sudan is to support the work that the Jesuits do in South Sudan.
My responsibilities include identifying the needs on the ground and translating those needs into proposals to gain donor support. In a year, the development office encourages submission of at least three proposals to different donors to complement funding from existing/core donors.
I support liaison between the donors and the Jesuits; and seek partnerships with organisations and local government authorities who align with the Jesuits’ mission.
I also contribute to increasing the visibility of the projects in South Sudan, working closely with partners in developing communication materials for fundraising purposes.
I support with coordination of the different projects within the ten apostolates on the ground as well as consolidate information for reporting the results, challenges and lessons learned.
I do this in collaboration with the development office in Nairobi which offers a lot of support.
The work is important because it allows the Jesuits to focus on implementing their works and gives them more time to do so, thus increasing their efficiency. In turn, the Programmes Office can focus on reporting, proposals and communication materials for donors and partners.
Unfortunately, in South Sudan, the needs are still critical and statistics such as those of food, gender, education is quite alarming.
The impact of violence, conflict, and displacement, as well as limited government support has strained and increased the demand of basic services.
This has increased the demand for support from development partners. It is our hope that JM supporters do not tire of supporting the works because it goes a long way.
In recent years South Sudan has experienced dwindling donor support, due to other emerging issues globally. This has had an impact on the Jesuit works as well, leading to cutting down essential services such as school feeding, reducing teachers’ salaries and staff, and cutting down infrastructural works to keep the apostolates running.
The needs are still pressing but it is our hope that with the support from JM, the Jesuits can alleviate these needs and create more lasting change.
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