A NATION IN TRANSITION
Southern Sudan has endured more than its share of suffering and tragedy for more than four decades. In 2005, the country’s opposing political parties signed a peace accord that ended Africa’s longest-running civil war, which killed an estimated 2.2 million people – 10 times as many as in Darfur. The ongoing question is whether the relatively small group of Arabs who live along the northern reaches of the Nile and have historically ruled Sudan will share power and wealth in one of the most diverse populations on the continent. It was political exclusion that drove rebels in the semi-autonomous south to fight, and the same issue inspired the rebellion to the west, in Darfur, which has claimed an estimated 300,000 lives and blown up into one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.
The peace treaty between the north and the south, which American officials helped broker, was supposed to address these center-versus-periphery problems head-on. For the most part, the agreement has stopped the killing in the south, which during the 1980s and 1990s became a wasteland of burned villages, slave raiders and thousands of boys – the famous Lost Boys – trudging through the bush looking for a way out. For over 20 years the village of Kolmarek where ELI now serves had been silent. The gruesome civil war forced people to flee or hide. Hundreds of thousands of victims died and even greater numbers fled into crowded refugee camps of neighboring countries. The village was empty. No school, no church, no life. ELI began work in 2005, in this region, immediately after the signing of the peace agreement. Because of the decades of instability and war it left an educational vacuum and ELI then established one of the first primary schools in the area in over 20 years.
Today the ELI hosts a school for over 300 vulnerable children who are learning English (The government chosen language for educational curriculum) and are also learning the importance of reforestation and agriculture techniques. We are praying for funds that will enable us to fence the compound – making it more secure for the children and also to keep the aggressive goats and cows from destroying our vision of having over a thousand mango and other fruit trees on the compound some day.
Southern Sudan is the newest nation on the continent of Africa as of July 2011 and are experiencing growing pains as they put together the policies and infrastructure for the people. Pray for wisdom for the leadership and for peace between North and South Sudan.