Way To Go, Angelina!

Ron’s been doing most of the blogging these days, and I couldn’t help but notice the same woman in one of his posts as in one my earlier ones. That’s Angelina on the left, holding her baby. She was one of the first students in our

Students in the women's literacy class at Rhumathoi Community Center examine a corrected exercise book.
Students in the women’s literacy class at Rhumathoi Community Center examine a corrected exercise book.

community center’s women’s literacy class. She also spoke eloquently how women, especially widows, were sacrificing their income-producing time (mainly gathering and selling firewood in the market) to go to class.

And here she is (again on the left) in Ron’s post about the distribution of personal battery kits. I haven’t asked Angelina what she will do with her PBK, but I have a feeling that providing mobile-phone charging will be a part of her use. (South Sudan has leaped over land lines to cell phones. While I was there, people listened to the radio, stored music, and checked the internet on their phones as well as talked; mobiles are a valuable educational resource.) There’s a constant, growing market for charging phones.

Through her connections with the community center, now Angelina has a potential source of income beyond gathering firewood. Way to go, Angelina!

Multipurpose center customers

No More Living Like a Refugee

This World Refugee Day, we want to thank our executive director Franco Majok, and project managers Bol Thiik Riiny, Mou Riiny, and Manyang Malang, all who came to America as refugees and all who are now making a difference in their homeland. Keep up the good work, guys!

Looking back, looking forward on World Water Day

On World Water Day, it gives us some satisfaction to look back at our Pinterest board on our wells in South Sudan to see all we’ve accomplished. But there’s still so much to do. Some efforts haven’t worked out: we tried to affiliate with water.org, but Matt Damon’s group doesn’t work in South Sudan. And our wish list continues. We still need additional funding to complete the well at Malual-Chum; we’re still looking for affordable drillers for wells at our community center and clinic. Water is particularly time-critical for our community center, because our agricultural test plots will need irrigation, and the time to begin cultivation is soon.

But looking back in our archives, we found the photo of a boy drinking a bucket of muddy water that the people of Machartit could get only by lowering children into a pit. But not many weeks later, we had secured funding for a drill rig, and the jerrycans were lined up to collect the clean drinking water.

You, our donors, large and small, have made this happen. We’ll keep making this happen as we continue to work to bring education and opportunity, including the opportunity for health and well-being with a cool cup of water, in South Sudan.

 

 

 

A photo for International Women’s Day

Here’s our photo in honor of International Women’s Day: After she finished her literacy class at our community center, this woman gathered firewood to sell at the market.

 

Her daughter holds her mom’s schoolbag as they prepare for the walk home. Several women told us they have less time to gather firewood and prepare charcoal to sell at  the market because they are going to class. Nevertheless, they keep coming to learn to read and write.

On this Women’s Day, let us remember our commitment to provide education and opportunity for women and men in South Sudan, and that education is the key to greater economic opportunity.

Dancing for clean water

We had a wonderful time at the fundraiser organized by Trinity Baptist Church for Malual-Chum Project. There were so many highlights, including the traditional South Sudanese dancing headed up by our project manager Abuk Madut. That’s Abuk in the center of these photos.

Abuk dancing 01

  Abuk dancing 02Abuk dancing 03

 Regina Ringador was the center-stage dancer in this segment:

 

 And thanks to drummer Mayuen Angara:

Mayuen drummingThanks again to the people of Trinity and those in and around Arlington for attending. Good attendance, great music, and substantial headway in raising money for clean water for South Sudan.

A 14-village, two-bull picnic

Here’s a slide show of our gift to the villages surrounding the Rhumathoi Community Center: two bulls and the feasting that followed. I had some of the beef. It was fantastic. So was the honor.

Teacher Training Is of Primary Importance

The teachers in Wunlang and Rhumathoi primary schools, although all from the area, have various backgrounds: some are secondary-school graduates, some are still in secondary school, and some are volunteers whose education is just barely ahead of their students. Teacher training is a continuing issue in South Sudan, even as the use of the South Sudan curriculum and syllabus grows. Teachers have to be prepared to teach it.

So our six-day teacher training was a refresher course in primary grammar. Teachers from both Wunlang and Rhumathoi attended, and ias Wunlang is a four-hour walk from Rhumathoi, we made accommodations available in our community center guest house.

Our teacher-training class met in one of our community-center rooms.

 

We were all learning as we went along, and we have realized that one exercise book for the trainer and providing exercise books for the students to copy into, while traditional and workable, wastes a lot of time. However, Kush Air, the three-times-a-week airline to Aweil, has a very strict baggage allowance of one bag weighing 20 kilos. Their definition of a carry-on is very small.(At the airport your trainer had to choose between her bag of training supplies and her bag of clothes, and she yanked a set of clothes out of her bag and stuffed it into her handbag; the other suitcase remained in Juba the whole time.) We will be exploring ways to get workbooks too all trainees in the future.

Because there was no way to transport workbooks for each trainee, teacher training involved a lot of copying from the board.

Because there was no way to transport workbooks for each trainee, teacher training involved a lot of copying from the board.

 

Teacher-training supplies included a nine-pound atlas, one of the few that includes the new country of the republic of South Sudan.

Teacher-training supplies included a nine-pound atlas, one of the few that includes the new country of the Republic of South Sudan.

 

We left the grammar books with the teachers so they could review. All teachers had areas in primary grammar that they wanted to study again.

We left the grammar books with the teachers so they could review. All teachers had areas in primary grammar that they wanted to study again.

The nurses are in!

At a village meeting under the trees, director Ron Moulton announced to the chiefs, elders, midwives, and all those attending that Wunlang Health Clinic had just hired two nurses and a registrar. It’s noLisa's trip January 2013 047w a Primary Health Care Unit, the first tier in health care in South Sudan.

 Santino Mayen is one of the two new nurses at Wunlang Clinic. He received his training from and worked for the non-profit organization Tearfund. At our meeting with him and the Wunlang leaders he showed us his medical-supply order, ranging from antibiotics and anti-malarials tLisa's trip January 2013 046o vinyl gloves.

Ron presented Santino with a blood-pressure cuff that a family member no longer needed. We are very happy that our clinic is so well staffed.

Lisa's trip January 2013 048

Pads and empowerment

We don’t have any photos of the remarkable conversations I had with the women’s literacy classes at Rhumathoi Community Center about whether they would be interested in a project of making their own menstrual pads. It took a little diplomacy to get my translators (both married men, fortunately) to understand what I wanted to discuss. But they said it was important topic and went to talk to the women. They came right out from the class and said, “They want to see them now.”

I didn’t bring any pads, just one sample made from a pattern we had worked on years ago with my friend Liz Ging. (Back then, we were thinking about the girls at Wunlang School. But now it seemed logical to start with our organized class of women at Rhumathoi.) The men didn’t want to come in, so I had brought over my supplies, and with our cook, Ayak, as my translator (her English is about at the level of my Dinka!) and my demonstration underwear, we all managed to communicate well.

Here's a pad made of terrycloth to guide the ladies in the Rhumathoi Community Center is making their own.

Here’s a pad made of terrycloth to guide the ladies in the Rhumathoi Community Center is making their own.

It’s an easy pattern to make up.

One afternoon I sat in the cool of the guesthouse and sewed some up by hand myself, thinking the women were at their literacy class. It turned out that the ladies had arrived for class only to find that their teachers were busy making funeral arrangements for a

The finished product that snaps around one's underwear.

The finished product that snaps around one’s underwear.

leader in the local market. They were chatting outside. So I showed the details of hand stitching, turning both pieces rightside out, sewing them shut, and sewing on the snaps. I brought patterns, lots of terrycloth, needles, and scissors, some thread (which I knew was easy to get) and I’ve been assured that some fasteners are available in the market — even buttons and buttonholes would work.)

The ladies were also interested in making these for post-partum women, and turning some of the terrycloth into diapers. I left all the supplies in a big flowered bag. They said they soon would be organizing themselves. I’m looking forward to learning how they do!