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To Kampala and South Sudan

by Michael Ford last modified 05 Mar, 2020 04:34 PM

Meeting Mother Union members who had slept on the floor of a cathedral, roleplay, and primary school visits were all part of the busy schedule when MU Trustee and Deanery contact for Wimborne's link with Yambio and Nzara, Sheila Soper, visited South Sudan.

To Kampala and South Sudan

All photos courtesy St Michael's Colehill

This was Sheila's fifth visit to deliver workshops to Mothers’ Union members in the 2 dioceses of Yambio and Nzara, and she began with a stop over in Uganda, where she caught up with the displaced people and Mothers’ Union ladies from Yambio in Kampala, listening to their plans to support some of the 1 million refugees from South Sudan.

Sheila said:

"I met with Mama Margret, the widow of the late Bishop Peter Munde of Yambio, with her 15 orphans and rescued children with urgent requests for financial help. They had not eaten the day I visited and she was upset that she could not offer me any refreshment."

The Missionary Aviation Fellowship (MAF) flew her into Yambio where she was met by Archbishop Samuel Peni and his wife Mama Aide.

"We began the first workshop in Yambio Cathedral with a communion service to start the first one off. There were 120+ ladies, all in their MU uniforms who had come from the deaneries and parishes across the diocese. Most had walked or cycled the many miles from their homes into Yambio and they slept for the 2 or 3 nights on the floor of the cathedral and meeting hall.

To Kampala and South Sudan- Yambio Cathedral, courtesy St Michael's Colehill
Yambio Cathedral

"Money raised in the UK was used to feed them and provide those who could write with pen and notebook. Several ladies had come with their babies but there was not one toy between them.

"The workshops went down well once they had got used to working in groups and listening to each other. I delivered in English and it was interpreted into Zande by Mama Aide, Mama Saba and Mama Nyemusa who also kept the groups on task! They had a new experience of role play which were great fun and there was lots of laughter! They particularly enjoyed the story of Mary Sumner, the founder of Mothers’ Union. I encouraged them to take these ways of learning to their home parishes."

Sheila also visited the Diocesan Primary school and saw the new building under construction. However, she noticed the other classrooms were the same as before – broken and with no resources:

"Anything in the buildings can be stolen including the school stamp which had been taken the previous night. There is one unpaid qualified teacher and 2 helpers with 600+ children, some who come in the morning, others in the afternoon and then some adults who come after that. I had taken letters and gifts from some pupils at St Michael’s Middle School and when I asked the older children to write replies, they were very willing, but they had no paper to write on!"

To Kampala and South Sudan- A classroom at the diocesan primary school, courtesy St Michael's Colehill
A classroom at the diocesan primary school

With money generously donated by the Minster Governors, Bishop Samuel will employ 5 qualified teachers who will ensure that the children get quality education.

Sheila also visited the medical clinic and gave some donated items before going on to the Bishop Yeremiah Bible College, where she was greeted by the students who are supported by the Salisbury Education Committee.

During her stay, Sheila also visited Nzara, the Christchurch parish in Bethlehem Deanery - a very bumpy ride but welcomed as always with garlands and many speeches - and the Karika deanery linked with St Michael's, Colehill.

"St Michael’s had raised a lot of money for me to take and I was due to preach, so I had to get there! Thanks to great driving skills and God’s guiding hand, we made it. Shouts and whoops along with garlands and drums greeted me and I was not quite sure if I was the Queen or Jesus as they had laid a pathway of branches for me to walk on!

"While in Nzara, I visited the primary school, St Timothy’s, which is thriving due to continued support by a parish in Salisbury Diocese.

"A new delivery from the Salisbury-Sudan Medical Link had just arrived at the clinic, so I popped in there and saw a well organised system and the foundations of the maternity unit they are building.

"As always there is time. I have come to learn to enjoy African time - no internet so time to pray, read and prepare.

"I will be sharing my journey with many people in the coming months but would like to thank you and all the many, many people who gave me support, particularly with huge amounts of prayer."

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