Partners for a Brighter Future

by Gerry Lynch last modified 25 May, 2015 10:53 PM

Strong links between Chalke Deanery and the Diocese of Cueibet in South Sudan.

Chalke Deanery has an established and vibrant relationship with the Diocese of Cuiebet (pronounced shwe-BET) in South Sudan, whose bishop, Elijah, will be known to many in the Diocese of Salisbury. The Revd Alice Goodall was a member of the Chalke Deanery Team who took part in the last visit to Cueibet, and here gives her reflections on the trip.

NB - a video of the Chalke visit to Cueibet is also available on YouTube - click here.

It was a difficult but rewarding visit. Fighting in the northwest of the country and the lack of strong central government has led to a greater level of insecurity throughout the country. Largely this relates to fighting between clans over cattle, and it was unlikely that we would have been targeted. But it was difficult not to feel vulnerable as we heard of increased presentations at hospital of people with gunshot wounds, or as we saw the shell of a car whilst travelling down the road to Cueibet and heard that this was where five people had been killed earlier in the year.

Inspirational Women

However we met some inspirational people. Deborah the midwife who works with little equipment and no back up, even though she is not paid, because she wants to show God’s love to other people. Abraham, a teacher who, in addition to teaching in a local primary school, travels around schools telling children about AIDS – currently a hidden time bomb likely to become much more evident in 5 – 10 years. Rebecca, working hard to raise her family of six children whilst also acting as a traditional birth attendant. Peter, working as a chaplain in the local prison, with some very scary young men. Dr Henry, a Dutch doctor working in the hospital in Cueibet, and Nicola, a German nurse co-ordinating a health care programme in Rumbek. People who give of themselves in order to help others.

Fruit Tree Project

And we heard about good things that are happening. Through the fruit trees project we have been supporting, 100 saplings have been given out to 30 families in the Diocese with training in how to look after them. Through a combination of money from the South Sudan Government and a charity, the hospital is developing well and plans to focus on obstetrics and childcare. The church has established a new school. A bore hole is being provided by another charity. And the prison rehabilitation garden was amazing.

So what contribution did we make? Well, we ran two small conferences: one for pastors about discipleship, and one for women leaders. And we took with us seven sewing machines; Dr Sherwood Elcock, one of the team, taught the basics of how to use them to six women from different parts of the Diocese. Womens Workshop

He also was responsible for finding the right spectacles for people needing them from the 70 odd pairs that you donated. The schools were very grateful for the pens, pencils, rubbers and pencil sharpeners. And those wonderful bras you gave – we gave them to leaders from the Mothers Union who planned to sell them in the market to raise money to buy material for the sewing machines.

Cathedral and School

But I think the most important thing we did was to encourage. We had discovered that in Kajo Keji, near the southern border with Uganda, there is no word for ‘encourage’. I am not sure there is a word in Dinka for ‘thank you’. Now I have noticed that it is when I am tired that I get most grumpy. And when I am tired and grumpy, I am more likely to focus inwards, fail to notice what others are doing, and forget to say ‘thank you’. And I guess for those living in South Sudan, struggling with the heavy demands of basic survival, the worries of insecurity, the exhaustion of an inadequate diet and bad health, encouragement is probably not top of their agenda. And yet, of course, it can make a huge difference to all of us. I think, from their reactions, that our visit, our interest, as well as your gifts and your interest, did encourage the people that we met.

Presenting Sewing Machines

So thank you for the support you gave to the trip. Thank you for your donations of money which enabled me to be a part of it. Thank you for your gifts of glasses, bras, pencils, torches, sewing things, mosquito nets and so on and so on which were so much appreciated by those who received them. And please continue to pray for Cueibet and to support the Deanery’s link.

Alice Goodall, Assistant Curate, Benefice of St Bartholomew

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