Educate a Community: South Sudan LocationSeptember 19, 2013 by Diana Coombs
Our team of 8 boarded onto the small plane and took up every seat available to fly into South Sudan. We packed lightly as the plane could only hold a limited amount of weight. As the plane sped down the runway, I had no idea what was ahead of us. I was warned that it would be hot, but, I didn’t realize there would be no reprieve from the hot sun. As we flew over the land, I saw that it was flat, dry and held very few trees and plants. As the time went by and the more I looked out the window, I realized we were far from any comforts of modern civilization and in the middle of “nowhere”.
Now that I’ve been to ELI’s school in South Sudan, I hardly call it, “nowhere”. This place is somewhere and it is home to many children and families. These people will forever be in my heart and I don’t ever want them to be forgotten; for that is what the enemy would like, for this people to be forgotten and all hope to be snuffed out. The people of South Sudan are resilient and have endured painful hardships. Villages were destroyed during a complicated internal war within Sudan that displaced and killed thousands of people, men, women and children. Since the war that took place 20 plus years ago, people still have not been able to recover.
ELI’s school is located in Kolmarek, a small village located on a main road above the two largest cities, Juba and Bor. Travel 15 miles south from Kolmarek and you reach the next biggest town, Bor. This town has internet and phone services (although often unreliable) and a basic medical clinic. While the town has some amenities, it’s hardly comparable to a well-developed city. During the dry season, the land is flat, hard and dense. The roads to Kolmarek are passable for cars that can handle large divots in the packed dirt, but when the rains come, the roads become slick with mud and impassable. If you are hoping to travel to Kolmarek or leave, you must do so before the rains come, or else you will be stranded. Even with a car, it takes a long time to travel a short distance. There are few cars present as this area is very rural and only local aid organizations like USAID have access to cars.
There are a few “stores” in the village, which are just wooden shacks selling random items, but not a lot of supplies can be found there. Even food is rare to purchase in these small local stores. Many people in South Sudan rely on aid organizations to provide food, which is not self-sustainable and only leads to an unhealthy dependence, but, I won’t get into that now.
One of the more special items you can purchase in these stores is soda, which is stored in a small cooler. Never mind that the cooler hasn’t kept the sodas very cold, but for a foreigner who, back at home, has the luxury of drinking ice cold drinks on a hot day, this lukewarm soda hits the spot and is a special treat. During my short stay in South Sudan, I have grown a huge appreciation for water. Back at home, water is plentiful. I can turn on the tap and drink to my heart’s content. But, in the village, water is a precious resource.
There are two boreholes in the village which supply water to everyone. Children and women walk to and from this precious pump to take water back to their homes. Buckets and plastic canisters that once held poisonous car oil if consumed, are used to carry the water. Our team had to collect the water from the pump and treat it with special chlorine drops so that we didn’t contract typhoid or any other kind of waterborne bacteria or virus. The water strait from the borehole isn’t treated like water sources in many first world countries, it literally is siphoned from the water table below. One of these pumps is located on ELI’s property and the children in our school frequent the water source daily. We are also using this pump to irrigate our demonstration garden where we teach the children and community how to farm and grow their own food source.
ELI’s property consists of land all donated by ELI South Sudan director, Stephen Reech. With a vision to help his village rebuild after being destroyed 20 plus years ago during the war, he gave his land to ELI to build a school and training center where people of all ages are empowered with knowledge and the love of God. Currently the land is being fenced in to keep unwanted people and animals out. There are several buildings on the property that are used for school classrooms, training center and kitchen. The land is always occupied with children, pastors and villagers and is even busy on the weekends when school is out. The children like to come to the property and play games like soccer.
While the dry season proves to be harsh with its high temperatures rising above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, no cool breezes and little to no shade, the rainy season does bring forth lush grasses across the land, especially towards the White Nile River, which is about 10.5 miles from Kolmarek. As the lands receive rain to spring forth vegetation, so we hope that we can empower the people to plant their own gardens and reap a harvest that will sustain their families and community instead of seeing children die of malnutrition. We hope to bring the love of Jesus that brings life that extends beyond this earth and into eternity. Each step we take, we see God bring healing to a war-torn people. Hope is springing forth.
$30 per month pays for 3 children to attend our school.
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