Appeal Smashes Target

by Gerry Lynch last modified 25 Apr, 2017 09:50 AM

South Sudan Lent appeal nears £65K as Anglican Communion reports from a Diocese ‘in exile’

Appeal Smashes Target

Credit: Anglican Communion News Service. Priests from the South Sudanese Diocese of Kajo-Keji in a Ugandan refugee camp.

The Diocese’s Lent appeal for South Sudan has smashed its target of £50,000. With donations still coming in, especially from collections taken at Easter services, the fund, launched by Bishop Nicholas on Ash Wednesday, was just shy of raising £65,000 for Christian Aid’s work in the famine-stricken East African nation.

Responding to the news, Bishop Nicholas said, “I am so grateful that the generosity of people across the Diocese has enabled that ambitious goal to be exceeded. This money will help Christian Aid in the parts of South Sudan worst affected by the famine which has taken root since the outbreak of civil war in December 2013.

“This will fund both immediate emergency assistance, and longer term projects aimed at helping vulnerable communities build resistance to the severe risk of being drawn into increasing famine and conflict.”

Reports from Christian Aid showed how urgently that assistance is needed, just as the Anglican Communion News Service published a major report from Kajo-Keji, which has a strong link with Devizes.

Christian Aid told us about one family they are helping in northern Bahr el-Ghazal, close to the border with Sudan. Achol, her husband Akole Agen and their 18-month-old daughter, Monica Achan, have for some time, only been able to eat one meagre meal a day. Severe malnutrition has stunted Monica’s growth. After falling critically ill, she was diagnosed as highly malnourished and put on a drip at a local clinic.

After three days Monica was able to take in a little milk. “We tried to give her other foods but she refused,” says Achol. She explained that the family are struggling to get hold of food: to earn money, Akole does odd jobs in the village, but the inflation rate is at 800%. 

“People want to pay you the same amount they paid you two years back. It’s barely enough to get my family by,” says Akole. 

Further east, in Nyal, one of the safest places in conflict-scarred Unity State, there are around 13,000 destitute internally displaced people with a further 30-40 arriving every day. Food prices in the market in Nyal are high, while sanitary conditions are deplorable, fuelling the spread of diarrhoea, upper respiratory infections (RTI), urinary tract infections (UTI), bilharzia, and brucellosis.

Those people have often trekked through the swamps with their children for five days or more. Others made rafts with reeds and pulled the children in the swamps. Despite the extreme poverty of the places they travelled through, local people gave the internally displaced people some of their limited food, and others collected water lilies and cooked them for them to eat.

At present, Christian Aid is working with local partners on the ground in South Sudan to: 

  • reach 3,000 households with fishing materials, seeds and tools, so that they can begin to fish, plant and grow nutritious food.
  • provide 14,000 people with clean and safe water, hygiene education, soap, buckets and sanitation.
  • provide 500 households (2,500 people) with vouchers worth $50 a month, so that they can buy food in places where local markets are operating.

The Anglican Communion News Service reported from Kajo-Keji, at the other end of the country, and an area in which more serious fighting has spread only relatively recently.

The third Bishop of the Diocese of Kajo-Keji, Emmanuel Murye Modi, was consecrated and installed on 15 January this year. On 20 January, the area was hit by the country’s brutal civil war. By the end of January, Kajo-Keji was all-but evacuated; with some 98 per cent of the population fleeing to Uganda.

The Diocese of Kajo-Keji has also relocated and has set up new headquarters and moved its ecumenical training programme to the Ugandan town of Moyo. “The Moyo District Authorities and the Madi and West Nile Diocese of the Church of Uganda have welcomed the people of Kajo-Keji warmly,” the Diocese of Kajo-keji’s newsletter, Voice of Hope, reports.

Adrian Burholt, Chair of the CRESS UK Christian charity which works in South Sudan, is a worshipper at St James’, Southbroom, in Devizes and heavily involved in the active and longstanding link between Devizes Deanery and the Diocese of Kajo-Keji.

The situation feels even more desperate given the huge strides the people of Kajo-Keji had made in development and agriculture since independence”, said Adrian, “when the rebels moved in, they had to walk away from crops in the fields and health clinics they had invested so much in.”

Last month, Bishop Emmanuel made a series of pastoral visits to the refugees and saw how the Church was encouraging the refugees with a message of hope to the displaced and grieved.

“We visited Morobi and Bidi Bidi which is the largest camp in the world according to reports by UNHCR,” the Voice of Hope’s Maziina Fred said. “It is estimated to host over 290,000 South Sudanese excluding the non-registered refugees. Other camps include Belameling, Chinyidi, Pasu and Koguru.

“We visited the Cathedral Dean, Canon Pianilee, in the camp to pray together and counsel him for the loss of his brother (Wojo) who was robbed and killed on the way from Kajo-Keji. Due to insecurity in Kajo-Keji, his body was buried in the camp. He is survived with a widow and four children. Please pray for them.

“At Morobi, we visited a scene where a lady had jumped into a blazing fire and burnt to death, perhaps due to trauma, stress and depression.

“We met some of the displaced and resettled pastors from all denominations now in the camps. Many of them are struggling to start-up churches. At the moment Christians are praying under the trees. Many families are separated from their loved ones.

“By the time of our visits, many had not yet received tents and there are rampant sicknesses. There is no access to medicines and the schools are not enough. In one of the schools there were more than 400 children in a single class!”

He continued: “There was also little or no access to water (especially drinking water) and animals are dying from lack of water, People survive on two cups of beans and four cups of maize flour for a month... the list can continue.

“We prayed together under the trees. Many don't have Bibles or hymn books, but still with faith many attended the prayers.”

The Church is mobilising its active and retired priests, and mission agencies like the Mothers’ Union to assist in the camps.

They are helping to establish pre-school, primary and secondary classes for the children; and have applied for permission from the Ugandan authorities to run mobile health clinics.

The church has started a number of congregations that meet under trees. They are trying to raise funds to purchase airtime on the Voice of the Nile radio station for its Reaching Out To All evangelism and discipleship programme.

The diocese says it needs Bibles, prayer books and hymnals, in both English and Bari languages, to develop its ministry. It has also lost its financial support to sustain the diocese following the loss of community offerings.

The diocese is urging people to pray for peace in South Sudan and for “blessings to Uganda for hosting the people of Kajo-Keji in particular and South Sudanese at large.” They also urge prayer for “the government soldiers to see humanity – to stop killing innocent civilians and to stop looting property of the people.”

People can still donate to the appeal for a few weeks yet. Donate online at bit.ly/ssudanappeal, text “SSUD17 £10” to 70070 to donate £10 to the appeal, or make a cheque payable to Salisbury DBF SSA and send it to South Sudan Appeal, Church House, Crane Street, Salisbury, SP1 2QB.

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