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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.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.
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!
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.
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.
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!