The United Nations points to the fact that around the world women and girls are disproportionately impacted by war, violence and poverty. However, in their 2021 report the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women Executive Director Sima Bahous noted, ‘… that when I look ahead, while I can see the challenges, I am optimistic that we can surmount them.
Women and girls have proven time and time again, that they will not be held back. They are in fact multipliers of the solutions that lead both to equality and to benefits for entire societies.’
Vicky is 18 years old. She lives in Rumbeck, South Sudan, the world’s newest country and one impacted by violence, displacement and lack of access to resources such as medical care and education.
Vicky’s mother died in the Autumn of 2022. She was sent to live with her uncles. Adhering to the social norms of the culture, Vicky’s uncles want her to marry. Vicky wants to get an education. She is currently attending the Fr Victor Luke Memorial secondary schools. She is continuing her education in spite of the wishes of her uncles. Vicky’s goal is to study hard. She wants to become a pilot.
The school is named after Fr Victor-Luke Odhiambo SJ, who was tragically murdered in 2018. There are 140 students. Only 48 girls. Again, this is due to the fact that these girls are expected to marry as soon as they get their first period.
This presents a huge challenge for those who want to continue their education. Some of the girls said they get chased by men when they leave school, so they are asking for dormitories to create a safer environment for them as they pursue their studies.
Vicky’s desire to get an education is a clear demonstration of Ms Bahous’ conviction that women and girls will not be held back in spite of the many challenges that they face. Vicky is passionate about how she sees her future.
Jesuit Missions supports a number of works in South Sudan, including The St. Peter Claver Computer and Ecological Centre in Rumbek, where students can study solar installation, construction, computing, photography, videography, mechanics, and driving.
There is also the St. Peter Claver Primary School, the Mazzolari Teacher Training College in Cueibet, and Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Primary School, which serves 130 children. Here classes are held outdoors under trees, because there are no classrooms.
When asked about the risks he was taking by working in South Sudan, Fr Victor Luke, said, ‘We cannot despair. We use do something.’
Those who are part of Jesuit Missions supported projects in twenty countries around the world, people like Vicky, grasp of the significance of Fr Victor Luke’s words, and choose hope over despair. Together with our partners, we work to make the world a more just place.
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