Sinking Latrines and Zinnias

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


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Sr. Carolyn (back row, second from the right).

Greetings from the marshlands of Malakal! This morning on my way to Mass I saw a flock of black and white African Sacred Ibis and a lone elegant Egret in the swamp between our College and the Church. So very beautiful! Last weekend we had three days of very heavy rain and the ground has been unable to absorb all the water. Our four latrines started sinking into the black cotton soil. How amazing! Before they were swallowed, our maintenance man pulled them out and arranged some kind of rock platform on which to balance two of them in order to give our students some privacy.

During our July school holiday, Brother Christian, Sr. Claudette and I enjoyed studying Arabic together. I’m grateful to be able to share something of what I learned about 25 years ago in En Nahud in Sudan. I marvel at the ways God prepares us along our life journey.

On the morning of the 24th July we awoke to the news that President Salva Kiir had dissolved his 29 member cabinet and dismissed his Vice-President Riak Michar. We were concerned what all this meant. U.N. sponsored Miraya Radio assured us that all was peaceful in Juba and soon the President would appoint a new and smaller cabinet in an effort to streamline and economize. A week later we learned of the new 20 member cabinet with the improvement that 25% of the new appointees were women. We still await news of a new Vice President.

The end of July we began our new semester of PreService and welcomed back our students to a campus that was now green and glorious with beautiful flowering zinnias. As the flower seeds mature our students are collecting them to plant around their homes. Interesting that in our first two weeks of the new semester we’ve had three holidays: Martyrs’ Day to remember those who died in the struggle for Independence and two days to mark the end of the Muslim Fast of Ramadan. What a gentle beginning for the new semester!

Last weekend we priests and religious enjoyed the Monthly Diocesan Recollection Day at the Cathedral near the center of town. Fr. Mathew Pagan, my former student in El Obeid, led us in the reflections on the Darkness that Mother Teresa of Calcutta journeyed through. What a blessing it is to gather together for reflection and Eucharist once a month!  We are grateful for Mathew’s sharing, especially because we know he will be going to Juba in November to take up his new assignment as Vice Chancellor of the Catholic University. Thank you for keeping us in your prayer.  Wishing you blessings for the new school year or semester or term.

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