Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Merry Christmas!

Now in the UK for Christmas! Brrr....

A few notes on the latest happenings. Life in Africa is never quite what you expect!
Just as the college was approaching a habitable state it was taken over at two days notice by a group of thirty preschool teachers who were in urgent need of a place to hold their six week workshop - their existing arrangements having fallen through. Interestingly a good proportion of them are men. Several of the women brought their young children along, and twenty extra people from the Juba area were added to their number in the daytime, so the amenities are greatly overtaxed.

We very quickly organised the building of an outside washing area and shelter for eating etc. which we had not expected to need until January. The thirty people soon turned into fifty people. They are sleeping on every bit of floor available(!) - staying in a building with just two newly renovated toilets. Sadly the pipe to the septic tank (on a separate property) appears to be blocked, which means that it is necessary to build a new tank at some cost. There were soon large bowls of water in evidence outside for washing clothes, dishes and babies, and the fences filled with drying clothes as is the usual Sudanese method - even if the neighbour has put up razor-wire!

The cooking is done in large pots over charcoal burners. The women doing the cooking are doing beautiful embroidery in between their cooking duties.
We managed to preserve one room from being invaded in which all the library books are stored and where Tina and helpers continue to work. One of those most involved is associated with Save the Children which has its headquarters in Juba. Save the Children here is supported by America, Sweden and the UK. Not wishing the books to get into the dusty state they were in previously we had an expedition to the market to find something to use as dust covers and ended up buying sets of the cheapest sheets we could find. So the books have now all been tucked up for the Christmas holiday. We travelled back to England with almost empty suitcases (all our Winter clothes being already here!) which caused some questions in the custom department. Our intention is to return with them full of books, taking advantage of the very generous luggage allowance given by Ethiopian Airways.

Tina has now visited most of the ECS primary schools in Juba. Though some are in a better condition than others, all work in extremely primitive conditions with hardly any resources. Both teachers and children greatly value links with schools in England. Some such links have been in existence for a few years and others are just being established. Communication is the main problem and it is mostly achieved by giving letters etc. to people travelling between the two countries. There is no internal post in South Sudan and none of the schools have electricity. If your local primary school might be interested in such link, please contact Tina at . (See an earlier blog for descriptions of Sudanese schools).

We are now both in England for Christmas and Andrew's (our eldest son) wedding on 2nd January. Having got acclimatized to 30˚C plus, December in the UK has been a bit of a shock, but we are surviving!#

We are very grateful indeed for all the people in England (and elsewhere in the "First World") who are supporting us through prayer and giving. We know that many people are passing on our Prayer Points to their friends, or taking them to prayer group meetings etc. This is very encouraging - it is so wonderful to be so looked after, and God does answer your prayers. On the financial front, despite spending over £1000, our account at Good Books is not less than it was eleven months ago when we left! People have contributed from different parts of the country. For example, although we left twenty years ago in 1989, our former parishioners in Middleton, Leeds had a Harvest collection, and STETS gave us the collection from their graduation service. We have not been able to thank all those who have given because some of the contributions have been given anonymously - sometimes just posted through Peter and Isabel Green's door. We thank you whoever you are, and we are very grateful indeed for Peter Green and Good Books for all they do for us in looking after all this. We are financing the purchase of new books through this account some of which Jo O'Farrell and Good Books are ordering at cost price. When we get onto our new site we will be in need of huge amounts of money for the new development - so keep it all coming! Many thanks. Have a great Christmas.

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