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amphirion's trip to the south sudan....

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as some of you might have known, I had the opportunity to go to South Sudan for 7 days with an evangelical missions emphasis at the end of April and at the request of others, I would like to share a little bit of what we did there...

A brief background, South Sudan gained independence from the north in 2011, and was considered by the UN as the most least developed nation in the world circa 2007. Much of the country's history has been marked by civil wars caused by economic, political, racial, and religious motives. It is not hard to find anyone in South Sudan who has been directly affected by the war-- death, suppression, kidnapping, and rape were considered norms and only recently has this country been given the brief opportunity to recoup, heal, and build up. I say brief, because it is inevitable that Northern Sudan will initiate war in the very near future. The country's education and health systems are in extremely poor shape as well.

Our purpose in South Sudan was two-fold--the first was to encourage and support local churches already established in the area. The second is to make the local churches a driving force in their community in terms of food, health, and education. All these 3 areas are severely underfunded currently due to government corruption and funds are prioritized for the upcoming war. Because the government has their hands completely tied, the church is the only institution in the region that is organized enough to help meet these needs. It would be easy to set up a clinic or build bridges and irrigation ditches then leave, but we are far more interested in long term results. We would like to see nationals support themselves, and empower them by giving them the skills to accomplish what they desire to see in their communities. Future plans include health clinics that will educate communities about HIV/AIDS, as well as setting up schools for children.

The area I was sent to cover was a town called Hai City, located in Yei County, one of the 10 counties of South Sudan, located close to the Republic of Congo.
In comparison with other villages, Hai City appeared to be very densely populated, but most business appeared to occur on the center road. Many are refuges from Dafur. It could be considered an equivalent of suburban sprawl, but plots of land were about on average 100 x 100 ft for each family. Houses were made from mud, with wood used as skeletal frame and a metal roof to protect the walls from rain during the rainy season. The people here are subsistence farmers with their crops primarily being maize, rice, beans, peanuts. Those that are better off grow papaya, mango, onion, and tomato. Reality is very harsh as these farmers only have the rain to rely on for watering their crops.

Hai City also has a very large number of kids---in fact I predominantly worked with kids. Without getting preachy, it was definitely humbling to see how these kids interacted with each other. Looking in their eyes, you know that many of them have lived lives far more harsh than anything like in the States. Some of them suffer from malnutrition, others from worms, hepatitis, etc etc, but yet, they are able to experience joy and satisfaction in ways I wish I could. The groups of kids seem to be overseen by older girls, who give any misbehaving kids a good twack on the head (regardless of relation). Almost similar to "Lord of the Flies," the kids have no real adult supervision, and by default, all older kids look after younger kids---ie 8-9 year olds looking after 2 year olds, as you will see in a few of the photos here.

So, I think I've talked enough---i'll let the pictures do the talking, with a caption sprinkled here and there....

plane used to fly into Yei, Sudan--from Entebbe, Uganda
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downtown Hai City
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downtown market place
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Joseph, the local pastor in Hai City--worked alongside this guy for the entire week.
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more pics of Hai:
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almost all the roads in Sudan are dirt roads....very rare to encounter paved roads. makes for an exciting trip on a 4x4 because of erosion
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and kids...kids, kids, kids.... very excited about the camera... many have never really seen their own faces before.
they look so happy and you get the sick feeling in your gut that kids their same age 10-15 years ago fought as soldiers...
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asians arent the only ones. :awesome: no, i didnt teach them....
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getting ready for a story and coloring....many of them did not know how to use crayons. we actually had to teach them.
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potted_plants

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Interesting trip. As for the poverty, crime, and military unstability, I truly hope it will get better in the future. I'm sure with a lot of support, they can have a stable future and can live good lives. It warms my heart to see that people are giving their time to the less fortunate, and helping them get to where they need to get.
 
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thanks very much for the encouragement potted_plants. im not supposed to make any rash decisions, but it is likely that i will go back--but perhaps even closer to the northern boarder, maybe near the end of the year, though not set in stone...
 
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You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.
First round is on me at ICPS.... well done Jon.


dulce bellum inexpertis
 

thez_yo

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Yet through all of that, you can still feel the generosity and warmth of their spirit captured in the photos :)
 

lance

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Wow, what a wonderful experience and thanks for sharing the pics!! Hopefully the poverty and military war clans will cease soon so these kids can have a brighter future then their parents did.
 

Brie

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Makes me smile and get misty eyed.. Kudos Jon.. I really wish I could do something like that someday.
 
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thanks much guys. seriously, spending only a week there seemed to not be good enough. might have to go back for a longer period of time. ;)
 
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Jon, a great and noble effort; and I take back two-thirds -- no, seven-eighths -- of what I had said about you, while you had been abroad . . .
 
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Very cool. There is a Sudanese church here in town that we have partnered with. The pastor is from Kalalyi, which looks like it is close to where you were. It is hard to find a good map. A team just got back a few months ago from a trip where several churches had raised enough money to donate a well. Previously they were walking several miles, just to get dirty water. A trip a few years ago showed them some farming techniques to help them get better yields. There is a blog of both trips that are interesting if you have the time to read through them. I appreciate all the work and sacrifice you have made.

http://kalalayi.blogspot.com/search...:00-06:00&max-results=7&reverse-paginate=true
http://kalalayi2.blogspot.com/2012/04/at-sioux-falls-airport.html
 
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very nice fullcollapse! thanks for the links!

so encouraging to see others participating in different capacities for the greater whole!
 
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