South Sudan: One of the most difficult and dangerous places to work
South Sudan is one of the poorest countries in the world. Since its independence from Sudan in 2011, it has also been suffering from a civil war which has killed over 300,000 people and caused over 4 million people to be displaced from their homes. As the instability and violence within South Sudan continues, more people are in need of protection and safety every day. Jesuit Missions is working with local Jesuits and our partner Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) across the country supporting a range of projects from training teachers in Maban refugee camp to peace building and reconciliation in Yambio.
Director of Jesuit Missions, Paul Chitnis, says,
“It is precisely because it is one of the most difficult and dangerous places to work that the Jesuits are here.”
Basamat Osman Atom is a young woman who lives in Maban refugee camp. She was born a few miles away in the then country of Sudan. She says,
“After the war broke out in 2011, my family and I ran to Maban to find shelter from the violence. I was in my second year of secondary school in Sudan when I was forced to stop my schooling”.
In Maban she was unable to continue her education due to her mum being jobless and unable to support her and her six siblings.
Basamat now attends the teacher training centre supported by Jesuit Missions and hopes to become a teacher to be able to contribute to improving the quality of education for other children.
In Maban, Jesuit Missions and JRS are part of the biggest project within the East African province. As well as teacher training, they provide psychosocial support, special needs and pastoral care, and recreational activities for children both within the refugee and host communities.
Fr John Guiney SJ, Director of Jesuit Missions Ireland, visited Maban and says,
“The personal, compassionate and listening presence of the Jesuits and their dedicated service in education, psycho-social work and pastoral outreach to all refugees is a real sign that God has not forgotten them but has come to be amongst them in the most isolated refugee camp in the world.”
South Sudan has the largest proportion of out of school children in the world and many teachers are not trained or have completed their own secondary education. Outside of Maban, Jesuit Missions is also supporting another teacher training college in Cuiebet, which was started by Fr Victor-Luke SJ, a Jesuit who was tragically killed last year. Fr Kizito Busobozi SJ has now taken on the responsibility of leading this college. Due to the ongoing violence in the country, the college continually faces many challenges and often the college also acts as a place for people to take refuge within the compound.
This year 26 Jesuit Missions marathon runners ran the London Marathon in memory of Fr Victor Luke SJ, aiming to raise over £50,000 for our work across the world including supporting this teacher training college continuing Fr Victor’s legacy in South Sudan.
Jesuit Missions Communications Officer, Stephanie Beech, was part of the Jesuit Missions marathon team this year. She says,
“I was really inspired by the work that Fr Victor-Luke started in South Sudan, it was a privilege to be able to run in his name and to support the work that Jesuit Missions is continuing to do.”