St. Paul Comes Through Again, Uniformly

new uniforms   Our friends at St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church in Arlington, MA, one of our first supporters, have come through again. As they report in their weekly update (scroll down and look at the right-hand column), they’re raising funds again to provide the students at Wunlang School with school uniforms. You might think this is a luxury with all the other suffering going on in South Sudan. But education is the key to the long-term solutions to this suffering. School uniforms are required; a family who can’t afford uniforms can’t and won’t send their kids to school. We source our uniforms locally, providing jobs and income for local tailors. Our last delivery was by motorbike, as the dirt roads were too muddy for larger vehicles. Transport_hired Our field director Yel Maduok Ngor (in the center, wearing tan) supervised the arrangement by sizes. Wunlang school uniforms distributed We’re so grateful to the people of St. Paul for providing this entrance into education and opportunity. The church is raising funds for this campaign until October 4.  

Wunlang School going strong

Wunlang volleyballThis picture tells a story – in a sense the best story imaginable – for Wunlang School. The village of Wunlang is so remote and rural that few vehicles make it there, and the footpath-become-road is impassable during the seasonal rains. People live in traditional shelters called “tukuls” made from local materials. Until our grant support enabled the village to construct its primary school for boys and girls, no brick and mortar structure was there. Now Wunlang School students play volleyball in the school yard, and the school building happily co-exists with the surrounding village homes.

Teacher with school booksClassrooms have also changed dramatically from the makeshift spaces in the shadow of trees the village called their school before they built Wunlang School several years ago. Village Help for South Sudan has provided additional grants to the school since it opened in 2008 – for routine maintenance, school supplies, and uniforms. Wunlang elders and citizens have become strong advocates for their needs through other channels as well. One example: this teacher displays the books donated to the school by UKAID in their massive program for South Sudan’s schools earlier this year.

Students outside Wunlang SchoolWunlang School is well-constructed. The local builder, the village laborers, and the young man who became our Field Manager – they all did an outstanding job building this school. It needs a fresh coat of paint, however, and more uniforms are needed. Your donations will help us continue supporting Wunlang village and their school.

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.

Wunlang School Latrines Repaired

Latrines were installed at Wunlang School when it was first constructed. We learned recently, however, that the latrines were not being used by some students – namely the young girls – whose modesty kept them away. The latrines needed a privacy wall to enclose the entrance area.

When we heard of this barrier to use, we issued a grant to construct the privacy wall. Yel, our field manager in the village took it from there. The Wunlang School pit latrines have been repaired successfully, and he sent us these pictures.

The young man doing the work is Maluil Makuei Piol. Because of his experience helping with the construction process for the School and other work in the community, Maluil is now an independent mason and carpenter. He got his start working on our village construction projects. Yel says, “The school has a great positive impact to the community and Maluil is the first young boy mason in the history of Wunlang.”

Stories of success like this make us very proud, and we hope you will continue to support Village Help for South Sudan to enable villagers like Maluil undertake development projects and advance their own skills and future livelihoods.

Supplies and food for Wunlang School

With cutbacks in South Sudan due to revenue shortfalls and border conflicts, the situation is very dire in remote villages, including Wunlang. We recently issued a grant to enable the Wunlang School to purchase some basic supplies they needed as well as some emergency food aid. Our Wunlang Field Manager, Yel Maduok, sent these pictures showing the distribution of exercise books and a letter from the Head Teacher acknowledging the gift.

   

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!