Independence Day in South Sudan

Sr. Carolyn Buhs describes her life and ministry with Solidarity for South Sudan where she has served since October 2011.

Greetings from this newest country which has just celebrated its Second Independence Day! The rains have now begun, the zinnias are blooming, and the butterflies and dragonflies are visiting. Such a transformation from the bare, earth-cracked fields of January!

Sr. Carolyn (back row, second from the right) and her community in South Sudan.

Here in Solidarity Teacher Training College, Malakal, we’re enjoying the change of schedule of a month of holiday. The end of June saw the close of our Second Teaching Practice and the end of the first semester. God bless all 18 of our students who have done their best! I had been apprehensive that the rains would make visiting Malakia Boys and Girls Primary Schools difficult, but God blessed us with only occasional rains and I never needed to use gumboots. The Third Teaching Practice will be in September or October.

The British Government has given a grant to provide primary school textbooks to all the children in South Sudan. Our students were able to use these textbooks for their lesson planning during their teaching practice. The books are in color and have more drills than the old textbooks. We hope by the Third Teaching Practice, all the children will have textbooks in their hands!!! Our college has also received a set of each grade level for the five subjects of Christian Religious Education, Science, Maths, English, and Social Studies. Sr. Claudette and Bro. Tom have been helping me stamp, number, record, and store these new books that will help us teach the students how to make schemes of work and lesson plans.

The fourth and last Social Studies textbook for our students has now been completely edited. Praise God!! We’re not sure how the printing will be done for these college textbooks. Maybe we’ll be doing our own printing.

President Salva Kiir established a National Reconciliation Committee composed of religious leaders to guide the country in the process of healing and reconciliation. The week before Independence Day, 9 July, was dedicated to prayer and fasting for peace and reconciliation. On the eve of Independence, here in Malakal, we gathered in the Presbyterian Church to pray for three hours with Christians of all denominations. A Muslim leader had been invited to join us but he did not appear. In fact, many people showed up at the Engineers’ Square which had first been announced as the venue, but due to heavy rain and flooding, the venue was changed to the Church. Our prayer was much like a Pentecostal meeting….very joyous and lively!

Hilde Johnson, the U.N. Special Representative to Secretary General in South Sudan, announced in her Independence Day speech that a big contribution of the U.N. has been to help transform the police force from  the soldiers they had been who were trained to kill, to a police force trained to help the civilians. So we continue to pray for peace and reconciliation.

Thank you for keeping us in your prayer and please continue to pray with us.