The most recent newsletter from London WEP has arrived!
Slightly better news from our colleagues in Juba this week. Some windows in the Kimu clinic were broken during the recent robbery. Four solar panels were taken, together with some curtains. But the solar panels for the medicine cooler, the batteries, and the switch gear were not stolen. And the police have agreed to provide extra protection for the clinic in support of the watchmen.
Meanwhile, the women’s literacy class we are supporting at Kimu is due to get under way at last in mid-November, in agreement with the teachers and students. The classrooms were not damaged in the robbery, so we are looking forward to confirmation that the classes are in fact meeting.
Another piece of better news is that classes at Juba University are due to resume this month, though there is still no agreement on tuition fees. We await news of the students we are supporting. Please help us to continue providing services with your donation.
We have sad news from Juba that robbers broke into Kimu Health Center on the night of 19 October and took some items including the solar panels donated to the health centre by Women’s Education Partnership. The robbers came in a group and scared the watchmen who hid in fear of being killed. The robbers were well equipped with all sorts of tools including the ones for dismantling the solar panels from the roof of the building. The case was reported to the police who said that other similar cases of robbery had been reported. Robbery has increased in South Sudan and apparently the stolen goods are not often recovered: indeed sometimes the robbers are security or other armed personnel.
The solar lighting panels used to provide electricity to the health center every day and reduced its electricity costs by 80%. Kimu is now in a very difficult situation as will be using the generator, which needs costly servicing and fuel. Moreover, prices in Juba are skyrocketing due to the devaluation of the South Sudan pound. Mary, a member of the community, said: “We could contribute and purchase new solar panels because this is the only health centre in which we receive treatment, but we are helpless as far as the economic situation in South Sudan is concerned. These robbers are crazy, because this health centre serves all of us, including them”.
The security situation in Juba is such that it is not sensible for WEP simply to replace the panels. But we are looking to make a financial contribution to the center’s increased running costs. Despite all the problems, Kimu and all the health centre staff are committed and continue to provide health services to 80-100 people per day. Please help us to continue providing services with your donation.
Let us share how our students describe their experience of higher education:
- Jane says, “We survived because we are the change-makers of this country and we shall never give up. We still have hope through WEP.”
- Mariam says, “I feel encouraged and proud to be in WEP’s scholarship program. In my country, girls are married underage and have no chance for higher education. When graduate I will be the first woman from my village to have done so. Thanks to WEP.”
- Nako comments, “ We come from poor family backgrounds and could not get into university without the support of WEP. I have seen my age-mates suffering because they got married underage and did not get the chance to go to school. My plan is to continue for a Master’s and PhD.”
- Majduline, who is in the sixth and final year of her medical degree program, says, “I’m busy doing my practical work in the hospital. But most of our professors are demoralized by the situation in South Sudan and may plan to leave the country. I hope they will push us until we finish our final exams.”
We are all hoping that the situation in Juba will soon return to normal and that our students will indeed be able to complete their studies. They are the best hope for South Sudan. Our aim is to increase, so far as our resources permit, the number of female students we support. Please help us expand this program with your donation.
Here are some first-hand impressions from our students of the recent fighting in Juba. Nako says, “The fighting was just next to us in Gudele…what happened was indescribable and I thank God for saving us.” Another student comments, “We are all traumatized by the July crisis, but we cannot give up education. I was trapped in my home area of Western Equatoria by the war last year and again now in Juba…it’s one day in the bush and one in the lecture hall. I am staying in the university hostel and we are really facing difficulties in getting food and health assistance. The little we were getting from our parents is no longer reaching us because the Yei and Western Equatoria roads are all blocked.” Majduline sums up, “It has been a terrible experience, but thank God we are alive.”
We are trying to mobilize support for the immediate needs of our students and for the four who need major medical treatment, three of whom have had to suspend their studies. If you can help with a donation, however small, please do so now .
This article shows vividly the problems facing girls in South Sudan and why education for them is so important. And it covers only the societal challenges without even mentioning violence and displacement. Uneducated girls grow up to become illiterate mothers, unable to help their children learn. One South Sudanese woman recently described the challenge of taking her child to the doctor. If the doctor prescribed medicine, the mother could not read which child the medicine was for or the dosage or the frequency. Only one of life’s little problems. But educate a woman and you educate a family, because mothers do not want their children to grow up ignorant. Please help us help the women and children of South Sudan.
People in Juba have been traumatized by the renewed violence in the city between 8 and 12 July. Many are leaving Juba for refugee camps in the neighboring countries due to fear of renewed fighting. The civilians are crying out for protection as they have lost trust in the government and the army. The South Sudan Women’s Monthly Forum stresses that “we need protection, we have no trust in our soldiers, they don’t respect us.” The UN Security Council has approved additional peacekeeping forces to protect civilians, but it remains to be seen when they will deploy and how they will operate.
In these very difficult conditions, our women’s literacy project is not active at the moment, as many women fear to gather in one place. However, the university and the Health Science Institute, where we are supporting two paramedical students are functioning. In Juba university, students in 1st year have finished their exams and those in upper classes are starting their exams next week. Unfortunately, two of our scholars are sick and have been transferred to Khartoum for medical treatment and another is in refugee camp in Uganda.
We pray that peace will return to Juba and continue to prepare for the relaunching of our projects when that day comes. We count on your support.
We have been very concerned at the terrible news of renewed fighting in Juba. It seems that looting of property by armed men is the order of the day and there are worrying reports of the arming of ethnic communities. The economic situation is dire, prices have risen through the roof and food is in very short supply. Nevertheless there is hope. Life is returning to normal and institutions, including Juba University and Health Science Institute, are expected to resume work on 18 July. Our friends at Kimu and at least some of our students are safe; Kimu has not been looted and work there resumed on 13 July.
We pray that real lasting peace will come to South Sudan.