SunGate Solar

Village Help for South Sudan is supporting the start-up of SunGate Solar, a social enterprise that will provide solar electricity, energy business solutions, and training to rural South Sudan. Mou Riiny, our Project Manager for this initiative, will be SunGate’s CEO. More information to follow.

From the Wunlang Field Manager

Yel Maduok Ngor

Yel Maduok Ngor

Can you introduce yourself to me? Yel: My full name is Yel Maduok Ngor. I am from Wunlang. I was born at the beginning of civil war in south Sudan. My father and mother never had been to school because there was no school in Wunlang when they were at school age.   What do you have in education? Yel: I a have high school diploma from Uganda   You just said your parents do not have any education, how did you go to school? Yel: During the civil war my father lost his cows. As you know cows are everything to Dinka tribe. My father started new life as a farmer and then changed to small business. My father decided to send me to school because there were no cows. When I finished 8th grade in Wunlang School, my father decided to send me to Uganda to finish my high school. I was the only one from Wunalng School to finish my high school. War changes everything, {now} everyone is eager to his children to school.   When did you finish high school? Yel: in 2006.   When did you start working as a Field Manager to Wunlang School Project? Yel: in March 2007   What is the progress of the building plan? Yel: Since March 2007, Wunlang community has been busy making bricks as the first step for construction of the school. We are so happy to get fund from US to hire people to make brick. We were able to hire 15 people and this is the first time in our story in Wunlang to create jobs for our people. We divided people in three groups (5 people in each group). We paid them 30,000.00 Sudanese dinnar for 1000 bricks. People stopped making bricks because of the rainy season. We made 163,000 bricks. We burnt {fired} all of them and they are now in good condition. We are waiting for you in US to send us money to start the construction when the rainy season is over by the end of October. I also contacted the builder Mr. Francis; he is not in our area now. I spoke with him last time and he told me that he has three teams of builders.   How is bore hole doing? Yel: It is doing well, it broke down one time but we fixed it and is in good condition now. The problem we have with bore hole is that more six villages are using it. One bore hole is not enough to six villages in addition to students. It is a big problem. In summer, cows and goats drink from it. But it is much better than last year. At least we have clean water. Student used to cut their classes to look for water. It is not a case now.   How is the school under trees? Yel: There are 350 students right now. Some students will show up late because this time of the year food is a big problem and many children are discouraged by that. Classes run well when there is no rain for all day, but when it rains school is closed. There are no houses near school to accommodate 350 people when it rains. The best thing to do is to ask children when it rains to run to their houses. Of course some children who walk long distance get wet on way home. There are 12 teachers in Wunlang School. Some of them walk long distance, some bike and some live close by. There are no school supplies, no shoes and no school uniforms.   Do women in Wunlang want to learn to read and write? Yel: Yes, women want to read and write. This is one of the biggest issues we have in south Sudan. I am glad you asked me about that. No one thinks about them. As you know there is gap in gender education. Women are behind and they need a lot of help with education. A lot of returnees will find Wunlang a good place to settle if we have adult education for women.   Anything you need to add? Yel: We are so glad from the people who help from US. We will not forget your support of building Wunlang School. We hope to see you in Wunlang.

Alexander Rittershaus – Young Hero to Wunlang

Alex Rittershaus

Alex Rittershaus

Alexander Rittershaus is a senior at Lynn Classical High School, and we are very fortunate to have him on our team coordinating our Village to Village campaign. In fact the whole concept that became “Village to Village” actually began with Alex. Almost as soon as our Executive Director, Franco Majok, returned from his trip back home to Wunlang in late 2005, Alex heard about the urgent needs of the village. He listened to the story of Franco’s trip, and saw pictures of children attending a school under trees, and he wanted to help. What can one young man do for a village and a school with hundreds of students with such needs? No one who volunteers his time with us exemplifies the “Power of One” more than Alex. In solidarity with the people in Wunlang who were making bricks by hand for their school, he conceived of a fundraising approach to sell paper bricks at his school. He brought the idea to his teachers and principal at Lynn Classical. He formed a fundraising committee with other students, and mobilized them to help with his fundraiser. He invited Franco and Ron to speak at a student assembly about our organization and the Wunlang School Project. His desire to help the suffering children in Wunlang became more than one person’s humanitarian mission. After a semester of selling bricks at $1.00 a piece, the entire school knew about Alex’s campaign, and they raised more than $4500 for the Wunlang School. Now Alex is inviting other young people and their schools to join his Village to Village campaign. He is representing our organization and the Wunlang School Project at Mass. Dept. of Ed. seminars. What Alex and his team did at Lynn Classical can be done in other area schools, and Alex will help. Not only will he and the rest of us at Village Help for South Sudan support fundraising at other schools, but everyone involved will have an enriching and rewarding experience helping the kids and their families in Wunlang. How do you define a hero? Such attributes as leadership, service to others, role model, and inspiration come to mind. Alex is all of these things, and we are extremely proud of him. We are grateful that he turned his compassionate heart and fundraising talents in the direction of Wunlang last year, and we are thankful that he has become our Village to Village coordinator. He is making a long-term commitment to our organization and the Wunlang School, and he invites others with a passion to help a destitute people to sign on to the Village to Village campaign. Can other schools do what Lynn Classical accomplished for us last year? Are there other young heroes out there like Alexander Rittershaus?

Welcome, Malual-Chum Village Project

We are absolutely delighted to introduce our newest project and its managers — Malual-Chum Village Project and the husband-and-wife project managers Peter Manyang Malang and Abuk Mathiang Madut.   Manyang came to America as one of the Lost Boys of Sudan and (as Jacob Makur) attended Arlington, MA, High School. When he became an American citizen, he went back to his village, in Warrap State, north of Tonj, for the first time in 18 years. He met Abuk at the village-wide party in his honor. Abuk arrived in America through the fiancee visa program, and they were married in Arlington. Manyang and Abuk live in Arlington with their five kids — twins Achan and Ngor, the little girls Achol and Apeu, and baby boy Aru. Manyang works at the Arlington Trader Joe’s, Abuk is taking English classes, and the kids are well-known around town through school, pre-school, church, sports, and summer programs.   In May and June of 2012 Manyang traveled back to South Sudan and shot this video of the wells in his village. As you can see, the hand-dug, open-pit holes are dancing with insects (“Snakes, too,” Achan remembers from her years in South Sudan). Manyang’s mother gets guinea worm every year — she just suffers through it, as there is no nearby clinic — because to dirty water. Stomach problems, worms, and diarrhea are common. Manyang came back determined that he and Abuk should do something for their village.
Like all our other projects, Malual-Chum Village Project is beginning with a well — drilled, with a hand pump, so clean water is available. If you need a presentation on Manyang and Abuk’s efforts, feel free to e-mail them at manyangmalang@aol.com or abukmadut@aol.com. Watch for fundraising events, too. Of course, you’re welcome to get this project going now by donating on-line (the process lets you designate donation to this project) or through the mail. Send your check to: Village Help for South Sudan, Inc. P. O. Box 8067 Lynn, MA 01904 and mark the memo line Malual-Chum Village Project.

Our Community Center Goes Up!

Here are the exciting photos we recently received from our community center construction site: The community center is going up! Here’s a view of the floor plan, showing classrooms of various sizes. We have a few more detail photos on ourSmugmug photo site. You can also see our treasurer Ron Moulton standing in what used to be an empty field! The kitchen is small, but cooking usually takes place inside only when it’s raining. It’s also a place to keep food and supplies safe and dry. We’re really building a small campus. Here’s a view of the main community center building, the kitchen, and the men’s guest house. Note the guest house’s traditional round shape. And here’s the women’s guest house. Can’t wait to unpack there!

More progress reported from Thiou!

Mou Riiny graduated from University of San Diego just a few months ago. He traveled to South Sudan at the end of December, and he has been serving as our Field Manager for the construction of the Thiou Freedom School in his home village of Thiou. This picture of Mou was taken in February, and since then he and his team of local laborers from Thiou have made great progress constructing the school. Although Internet and phone service are spotty or non-existent in the rural areas where Thiou is located, Mou travels to the town of Wau quite frequently to purchase construction materials and to communicate on the progress of the Thiou School project. As you can see from these pictures, the progress is outstanding. Once again the work of the local people – and Mou’s leadership – exceed our expectations! The project uses local South Sudanese builders, trained from prior work and now running their own business! Thick walls of locally-made bricks surround the four classrooms of Thiou Freedom School. The walls go up! The project employs all local labor from the village of Thiou and the region as we deliver education and opportunity to this part of rural South Sudan. Thank you, Mou, for giving back to your native homeland with such hard work and great progress.

Midwife Kits for Wunlang

Our friends at St. Paul Lutheran Church have supported Wunlang village in South Sudan for several years, starting with our Wunlang School project. Last week their latest fundraiser and social ministry culminated in the assembly of midwife kits that will shipped to the women of Wunlang to help support safe deliveries and care for newborns. Two years ago the St. Paul’s midwife kit project resulted in about 250 kits, shipping to the Wunlang village clinic, and a training workshop for the traditional birth attendants in the village. When I visited wunlang in February, the TBAs spoke passionately about the importance of the midwife kits and their appreciation for this gift. A midwife kit includes a sheet, receiving blanket, towel, washcloth, soap, latex gloves, razor blade, and twine. The materials were laid out on tables for assembly. This year’s fundraiser generated 400 kits. Each kit is sealed in a plastic bag, and the bags are boxed for shipping – in boxes donated by Gentle Giant Moving.

Wunlang 1, Yargot 0! Go, Wunlang!

There’s a lot of talk in the NGO world about a community taking ownership of a project. This happens all the time in Wunlang. Assistant field manager Deng Chier organized the group that slashed a path for the truck to deliver the construction materials that became Wunlang School. Once Wunlang had school buildings, headmaster Angelo Akot went to UNICEF on his own and acquired textbooks. And now, suddenly, we have school sports scores to report. The Wunlang School now has a soccer (or football, or kuro) team and, in a home game, defeated Yargot 1-0. Yargot (also from Aweil County East, near Akuem) is in blue, Wunlang in assorted colors. Our team meets with the referee. It appears the two upright sticks on the far left of this photo form one of the goals. The school to the left, traditional houses to the right, a big crowd in front. And yes, we have noticed that the Wunlang team does not have enough shoes to go around. Our first impulse is to scoop up all the old soccer cleats we have around here and send them over. But there’s the question of sizes and the cost of shipping them to Wunlang. Any leads on corporate sponsorship appreciated. If you’d like to sponsor a pair of shoes, we’re figuring buying the shoes in Aweil and getting them to Wunlang would run about $25 a pair. W-U-N-L-A-N-G! Wunlang!