Fierce Winds, Thorny Plants

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

MAY 2013: Greetings from Malakal where the Baobab trees are beginning to put forth their green leaves! We’ve enjoyed a few separate days of rain which have given us a welcomed respite of a few hours of cooler temperatures. The big cracks in the black cotton soil are beginning to disappear as the ground soaks up the rain.

I’m very much enjoying teaching geography and history of Africa to our second-year student teachers. So much is new to them and they come eagerly to class to study the map of Africa and hear more stories. The first-year student teachers are learning how to make a “scheme of work”…something totally new to them. I’m glad the second-year students shared that the “scheme of work” is so helpful that when they return to their home state of Unity they want to have a workshop to share their new tool with their fellow teachers. Another blessing of this past month is that I’ve completed the revision of Social Studies Book 3 and only have one more book to revise!!

Children in Agok. Photo by Bill Furman.

On the third of May, three of our community flew to Juba so that they could then fly to Agok on the following Monday to teach English for three weeks to the refugee teachers of Abyei, the disputed area on the northern border of South Sudan. We were all greatly saddened when we learned of the killing of the paramount chief of the Ngok Dinka and of an Ethiopian U.N. peacekeeper on Saturday the fourth of May by armed Misseriyat pastoralists. The Ngok Dinka have lived in Abyei for hundreds of years. The Misseriyat have traditionally visited Abyei seasonally to water their herds of animals. Most of the year the Misseriyat live in Kordofan of the Republic of Sudan. The great fear was that this killing would destroy the negotiations with Sudan that the paramount chief was involved in. The teaching of English was delayed a week as the refugee teachers mourned and attended the funeral of their paramount chief. We were all grateful that peace prevailed and justice is being done in searching for the responsible Misseriyat.

Recently, we had a terrific east wind. It blew over the walls of one of the student pit latrines. The wind came shortly before the 5 p.m. Mass that the parish was going to celebrate in thanksgiving for the 8th year anniversary of the Parish Priest Stephen. I was eager to attend and did not realize how fierce a wind can be. I managed to open and pass through the metal sheet gate from our College into the Church compound. However, trying to close the gate resulted in me being knocked backward into the thorny plants that grow in the field. I was so grateful that I did not bang my head against the cement path that enables us to cross that marshy field in the rainy season!!!  After lying a bit on the ground and realizing I was okay I was able to attend the Mass…..another celebration of joy!

In two weeks we will begin our second teaching practice. Our students are looking forward to the challenge. Thank you for keeping me in your prayer. We continue to pray for justice and peace for all in this new country.