South Sudan

South Sudan is one of the poorest countries in the world with 55 percent of its population living in poverty, according to the World Bank. The country gained its independence from Sudan in 2011, but is facing an ongoing civil war that started in December 2013 and has resulted in a dire humanitarian crisis. Responding to the ongoing civil strife is nothing new to Salesian missionaries in the country. They have been continuing their educational and social development programs in communities across the country while also responding to the ongoing humanitarian crisis.

More Missions In South Sudan

Respond to refugee needs

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has noted that nearly 2.2 million people are displaced within South Sudan, and millions have fled seeking safety and shelter in neighboring countries. Many of those fleeing South Sudan are women and children. They include survivors of violent attacks and sexual assault, children who have been separated from their parents or traveled alone, the disabled, the elderly and people in need of urgent medical care. UNHCR notes that South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, has now joined Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia as countries that have produced more than a million refugees.

Fighting in the country intensified in July 2016 near the country’s fifth anniversary of independence. During the first year of the war, fighting was initially between Nuer and Dinka ethnic communities aligned with the rival leaders but of late a wider array of armed groups and communities have been drawn into the increasingly lethal violence.

Salesian missionaries living and working in Juba, the largest city and capital of South Sudan, and in other places across the country, have been on the front lines providing humanitarian relief for those in need. They are also working within their networks around the globe to access aid, while continuing their educational and social development programs in communities across the country.

Provide youth centers & safe activities

In December 2015, 270 youth took part in a 10-day summer camp operated by Don Bosco Gumbo located in the town of Gumbo on the outskirts of Juba, the largest city and capital of South Sudan. The camp was organized by Salesian missionaries in collaboration with members of the St. Vincent de Paul parish. Students from Salesian schools in the area, youth from communities surrounding Juba and those living in a camp for internally displaced people participated in the summer camp. During the course of the 10 days, the teams competed in recreational activities and sports with an emphasis on developing a healthy sense of competition and camaraderie. Each day began with a morning assembly that included positive messages of hope, joy, peace and love followed by morning classes in English and Arabic. After a mid-morning breakfast, campers engaged in sports and recreational activities including games and art, speech, singing and dance competitions.

Provide clean, safe water

Salesian missionaries completed a water well project in Morobo, a village less than two miles away from Don Bosco Gumbo, a Salesian center located in the town of Gumbo on the outskirts of Juba, the largest city and capital of South Sudan. The village had been completely destroyed during the country’s fight for independence in 2011 and much of its population had fled to safer areas. Despite continued fighting across South Sudan even after independence was gained, close to 4,000 people have come back to make the village of Morobo their home once again.

One the most urgent needs in Morobo is access to clean, safe water. The nearest water source is in Juba, which requires residents to make a long daily trek to carry water back to their homes. From November to May each year, South Sudan experiences a dry season and most sources of surface water dry up. The water well project in Morobo provides the local people drinking water as well as water for sanitation and daily chores. Missionaries constructed the water well by drilling a borehole and installing a hand pump. Its construction has improved the health of residents, increased agricultural production and led to a better quality of life for families, especially for girls and women.

Deliver life-saving meals

Conflict and famine in South Sudan are severely affecting minors across the country. In March 2017, a famine was declared in parts of South Sudan. UN agencies warn that almost 5 million people urgently need food, agriculture and nutrition assistance. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) noted that ongoing war and a collapsing economy have left some 100,000 people facing starvation, and another 1 million people are classified as being on the brink of famine.

Salesian missionaries at Don Bosco Gumbo and across South Sudan, including Salesian Sisters with Mary Help of Christians, continue to work within their networks around the globe to access additional humanitarian aid including food aid for families in need. In Gumbo, Salesian missionaries have two camps that currently have more than 1,000 families (roughly 10,000 people) who have been displaced. They also assist hundreds of families in the surrounding neighborhood who are starving due to the present crisis. At the Salesian church compound in Wau, Salesian missionaries are providing shelter and assistance to 2,500 people and reaching out to thousands of others displaced within the city.

In addition, Father David Tulimelli, parish priest at the Salesian St. Vincent de Paul parish, which operates Don Bosco Gumbo, was praised for his efforts to assist those who have been internally displaced by the ongoing conflict. According to a Premier Christian Radio article, Fr. Tulimelli fed 4,000 people in a year as the country’s refugee crisis intensified. Fr. Tulimelli has partnered with the international aid agency World Vision to provide food for people facing starvation.

Deliver essential equipment & supplies

In addition to the food aid provided by Salesian missionaries at Don Bosco Gumbo, Salesian missionaries are providing essential school supplies for students attending Don Bosco Primary School located on the Don Bosco Gumbo campus. Salesian missionaries provided new pens, pencils and school stationary for the new school year. The primary school serves 1,000 children, many from families who have been internally displaced.

Improve health services

Salesian missionaries have been working in Tonj, a town in the northwest region of South Sudan, for several years. Their focus has been on providing education and social development services for poor youth through the operation of primary and secondary schools and youth centers. In addition, the missionaries operate several medical clinics, including a leprosy clinic, as well as a hospital.

Today, 20 families of people affected by leprosy are living in a place called Laicok where Salesian missionaries have constructed buildings that have space for each family in their own room. Salesian missionaries, with assistance from Salesian Sisters from the Missionary Sisters of Mary Help of Christians, have been providing care and aid to those suffering from leprosy. They are provided shelter, food, clothing and sanitary items like soap, as well as medical care.

The leprosy program was started by Father John Lee who arrived at the Salesian mission in Tonj in 2001. A new hospital named for Fr. Lee was opened in Tonj in late July 2014 after four years of planning and construction. The current facility consists of maternity and surgical wards and a residence for medical and administrative staff. The hospital was fully operational in 2015. Volunteer doctors from Italy provide the medical care at the hospital.



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From South Sudan

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