Account of Visit to Juba: October-November 2014
In addition to our primary visit to Bishop Gwynne College (reported separately) we also had the privilege of meeting other groups in Juba.
Justice, Peace and Reconciliation Commission
We were invited to attend the overseas partners meetings of the Justice, Peace and Reconciliation Committee (JPRC) of the ECSSS which included people (friends) known to us from the UK and USA.
The purpose of this meeting was to acquaint the partners with the current and planned work of the commission.
JPRC comes in as stage two in the process where SUDRA (ECSSS Relief Association) responds in stage one with immediate humanitarian relief.
It is evident that the degree of humanitarian response, although not in itself insignificant, is tiny in relation to the need. (It is estimated that approaching four million people - half the population of South Sudan- are suffering from food or other basic needs shortages.)
However in stage two (JPRC) the churches have a huge advantage over other bodies. Government agencies are often treated with suspicion and are seen as one-sided. But NGOs come from outside and it takes time to establish sufficient trust. However, the churches are already there with their pastors, women's groups (like Mothers' Union) and other structures preaching hope and unity in Christ. (We all belong to Christ whatever our ethnicity.)
It is against this background that we can see the importance of training not only pastors but lay-leaders in understanding trauma and its consequences and how to bring healing and reconciliation to the people.
We were privileged to visit Juna 3 IDP camp on the outskirts of Juba. This UNMISS camp shelters a very large number of ethnic Nuer who fled following the violence of December 2013 when soldiers and others with guns, often drunk, went on a shooting spree.
Confident Children out of Conflict
This charity cares for girls who have been living in danger in the twilight areas of Juba. Often abused both physically and mentally up to fifty (mostly) girls aged from one to sixteen reside at the compound next door but one to BGC. The work is the inspiration of Cathy Groenendijk, a Ugandan woman, ably supported by her husband Wim and a band of mostly volunteers from overseas (Europe and the Americas) and Juba itself.
The stories of these girls are hard to listen to. Their faces tell of the horrors they have been through – often sometimes in danger of their physical lives as well as their moral ones. These children can shock, but they are also aware of what love is because of the work of CCC.
The charity pays for them to go to school and does everything in its power to protect them from the predatory world from which they come. At the outbreak of violence in Juba on 15th December they transported them all to Yei to a partner hostel. Some of them still remain there. Since then new girls have taken their place.
This work is totally reliant on charitable giving. We took new children's clothes donated by a parent in Wool Primary School, Dorset which were very well received.
Despite being in Juba such a short time Tina was able to get to three schools while we were there.
Juba Diocesan Model Secondary School is very near BGC. It now has the reputation of being the leading secondary school not only in Juba but in the whole of the country. We conveyed letters from and brought letters back for sponsors.
The school is in very good heart and looks attractive. The only disapointment is that the new girl's dormitory remains closed because the school has decided that a house containing a large number of teenage girls in a city where, not so long ago, drunken men with guns were roaming the streets at night is not a good idea. (It is hard not to over-emphasise the impact of 15th December 2013 and the days that followed.)
Tina also visited Ginana Primary School with a gift of USD $300 from Wool Primary School. It was our intention to deliver this in a visit in February last year but circumstances did not let us travel. The area around this school has deteriorated in recent months with children from very make-shift housing crowding in. Despite this the school has now moved on to include a Primary Seven year. They have constructed a mud and timber building (wattle and daub) to accommodate them.
St. Batholomew's Primary School, Royal Wootton Bassett also donated USD $300 which Tina took to a primary school in Munuki payam (district), a western suburb of Juba. The school is doing well under the stability of the same able headteacher it has had for the last five years.
Picture link to follow!
Trevor and Tina Stubbs