Happy As a Pig In Muck
Today is two months on from the attachs of July 23rd which casued lots of damage and seriously disrupted Humanitarian Activities here in Maban. The UN security level remains on a high level and we are supposed to only move with escort of soldiers. So the other day when I needed a mechanic he had to come in the company of eight armed soldiers and a machine gun. Organising escorts can complicate and slow down these simple tasks.
Despite this level of security concerns myself and some others who remain around from other organisations have moved back to our compounds and move freely. ( those of you who know me well know my disates of rules if they get in the way of doing some good) We are slowly working at building back up to support the people here in need. Some of our local staff are back to work now. Last week Muna who was 18 days old, and who's mother died in child birth needed our help. Her aunt and family are looking after little Muna, but they had no milk. JRS were able to get some power baby milk. This one little story is just a reminder of how important it is for us to do all we can to get back to full service levels.
So we spend alot of time in meetings with political and military leaders. We also have informal conversations through the Catholic Parish network and people we know here over the years. Last Tuesday some of the leaders who organised the protest on 23 July apologised and gave commitments that such would not happen again. This comiintment is very welcome - for many it needs testing. JRS and the parish hosted many of these leaders that night at a meal and this allowed a more relaxed environment to build relationships and trust.
I think this is very important work for us right now. JRS has always worked with a community based approach and we will continue to give time to get to know the local people and what their worries and concerns are. Many of them see NGOs here as a bit remote and not in tune with how they see things or their needs. Being Irish I thinks helps greatly, anti-imperialism is in our DNA, as is a disturst of over bearing authority. We can easily relate to being taken for granted and speak truth to power.
Apart for this onging work to promote peace and reconcilation, we are also trying to expand our exisitng compound so that we can deliver some of the classes that were run out of the now destroyed learning centre. Thankfully the Local Government have been helpful and we are talking to donors about help to build a perimter fence and getting some temporary structures in place.
We are also workning to imporve the facilities of some of the local schools. As you can see from the pictue above this tent which serves as a class room is well past its sell by date. When I saw it I said we must do something quick. Hopefully in a week or two we will have some new tent classrooms in place.
Of course to do all this work we need to eat. And today we had this nice meal of roast goat and beans and locally baked bread and of course a little salad!. It has also been a time of coming and going. Fr Ken a young Jesuit from Keyna has arrived as part of the team here. This is great news. On the going side, Fr Pau from Barcelona who has been so key to JRS in South Sudan for the last 6 years has gone back to Barcelona for a few weeks before he heads onto Mexico to complete the final part of his Jesuit Training. He will be a big loss. We wish him well. Hopefully over the next few weeks all the team will be returning.
So it is busy times and challenging times, but with God's help, with the many messages of support from home and also the stock of Barry's tea that my mother and sister sent with me, I do find I am as happy as the little pig in the picture at the beginning of this article! Maybe this is the Joy of the Gospel of which Pope Francis speaks so frequently.
Blessings to you all.