If you can’t feed 100 people, then feed just one. — Mother Teresa
Many questions remain about South Sudan’s political and economic future. On the one hand, there has been no recent upsurge of violence. It was reported that New Year’s Eve was celebrated in Juba without any gunfire. On the other hand, hyperinflation and food insecurity remain in South Sudan. Education and clean water for all are elusive goals.
A small non-profit like ours looks at enormous problems that governments and international NGOs cannot overcome — and turns back to doing what it can do.We aren’t able to provide massive distributions of emergency food. But we were able to provide aid to farmers to buy seed in 2016. And we were able to provide price supports at the market so the resulting crops could be sold at lower prices, while still give farmers a profit. We also, by building Wunlang School back in 2008, have provided a place where food supplies can be distributed. About 160 girls attending Wunlang School received sorghum, lentils, and cooking oil through a UNICEF program. Girls’ literacy is still far behind boys’ (40 percent to 60 percent), but we have seen girls’ enrollment increase steadily in Wunlang since the school was built. Word of Wunlang School has spread. As other parts of South Sudan become too difficult to live in, families have come to Wunlang to give their children a chance at education. Even when children are hungry, reports field manager Yel Maduok Ngor, they still show up for school. Back in America, Thiou Village Project has raised enough money to enable us to provide school supplies and money for repairs. We also had a remarkably successful fundraising day for our Malual-Chum project. It is our goal to get a well drilled in this village this year. Then women and girls like this won’t have to haul up dirty water with a tin can. You can help with all these goals by making a donation. Then you will have done your part to bringing education and opportunity, despite all the obstacles, to remote parts of South Sudan.
Our friends at St. Paul Lutheran Church have been faithful in raising money for school uniforms. This may not seem like a big deal, but in a country where uniforms are required, and a place where a uniform may be a child’s only decent piece of clothing, each uniform is a ticket to an education.
In our last effort, our uniforms were made by a local tailor and delivered by motorbike. This time, we have a small, but significant change. Here Joseph Deng Madhieu is negotiating with the seller of our uniform fabric.
And here are the uniforms being made in Rhumathoi, at our community center. In the background are tailors on foot-treadle sewing machines. In the foreground are four local women, trained by the tailors to sew on the buttons.
It seems like a small thing, four women sewing on buttons. But this was organized by our field staff themselves: no one flew in from overseas to tell them what to do. Our local leadership grows more empowered with every project. Now these women have a marketable skill they didn’t have before. And more children will be going to school. It’s these small, significant opportunities we will keep focused on at Village Help for South Sudan.
Many were surprised to learn that their friends’ family back in Africa doesn’t have clean water to drink. But we noticed that as Arlington grows more diverse, several of those who stopped by could identify personally with our project; they had the same situation in their homeland. Our donation jar filled up nicely, and many took our cards and bookmarks to learn more about the program.
Of course, the kids had to do Town Day, too: some bouncy house, some face painting, some fried dough and kettle corn. It was a great day to raise awareness from town to village and back again.