Helping Kids be Kids in South Sudan
You wouldn’t know it from their shouts of laughter, bursting forth as they run along the rows of makeshift shelters their families call home. But these precious girls and boys suffer heartbreaking deprivations that no child should have to endure. That’s why, every day, our Salesian missionaries focus on relieving the burdens of their displaced lives.
These children live at Don Bosco Gumbo, a Salesian-run refugee camp just outside the capital city of Juba, South Sudan. Some were born here, never understanding that life could be any different. Others arrived with their mothers and siblings as far back as 2014—part of a wave of thousands of frightened civilians who stormed the gates of the Salesian community in a desperate search for protection. With the hostilities and violence of civil war escalating around them, they had nowhere else to turn.
Today, as many as 10,000 people continue to rely on the life-saving services they receive at Don Bosco Gumbo. This includes monthly food parcels to supplement the vegetables they grow on small plots of land; essential medical care; access to clean water; and more.
“Still, children lack comfortable beds and dedicated places to play—the things they need to ‘just be kids,’” explains Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions. “In addition to basic humanitarian services and ongoing educational opportunities, our missionaries and staff at Gumbo always look for ways to support children’s healthy growth and development.”
For many children, this means going to school—an opportunity our missionaries have prioritized since day one. Don Bosco Gumbo provides education for more than 4,000 children and older youth in two kindergartens, two primary-middle schools, an accelerated elementary school, a secondary school, and a vocational training center. Often, the daily structure students experience in the classroom provides the one and only escape they have from their everyday, tedious life. Recently, missionaries were able to add a new recreation and sports area where kids and older youth can enjoy the benefits of play after school lets out.
“Our Salesian missionaries constantly look for ways to ease the burdens of this community,” says Fr. Gus. “The camp now has a Salesian-run medical clinic, a women’s center, and youth sports camps to keep the children active and engaged.”
No doubt, the children’s laughter will soon be louder than ever!
Learn more about our work in South Sudan.
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*Any goods, services or funds provided by Salesian Missions to programs located in this country were administered in compliance with applicable laws and regulations, including sanctions administered by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control.