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South Sudan
Posted Mar 31, 2018 by Tony O'Riordan

South Sudan sings Alleluia - Easter in Doro

Estimated read time: 4 Minutes

Last Wednesday night ten civilians including a child were all shot dead not far from where we live and work. The facts of who was behind this atrocity have not to my knowledge been established. It is a stark reminder that we are in a country at war. It is a stark reminder why so many people are refugees- they have fled to seek protection from violence. They flee for their lives!

Going to Camp Doro is overwhelming. Doro refugee camp is one of four refugees camps in this county of Maban. Doro camp is about the size of Limerick city. It is the largest of the four camps all within a short distance of each other.  To think of so many people forced to flee violence and to come to this barren space and just establish what is a primitive city. The fragility of the physical structures of grass, stick and mud reflects the fragility of life here.

People live on bare minimum here and they work hard to survive. They come to this place with only their trauma and questions. They construct fragile homes and begin to build new lives. Remarkably they build hope. They create community. But it is fragile and dependant on security and food.

Family life happens in very basic structures, grass, wood, canvas sheeting. The shelter is basic. This all takes place under harsh temperatures close to 40 degrees. Life here depends on the international aid community to provide support with food and the provision of basic social services.

In the midst of this maze of misery and toil, I am greeted with smiles and welcome for yet another Kayaga – their word for a white person! I notice too indications that children seem happy, childhood is in a close community. It allows for creativity and imagination. Childhood is close to nature. But childhood is short!

Yet the weight of all that seeks to destroy life here is itself fragile. I notice the triumph of the human spirit breaking through the cracks in the veil of bleakness. Watching a group of little children who had made a football out of mud they play barefoot. They play like any other children anywhere in the world, oblivious to the material of their ball or the hard clay of their pitch or their fictitious goal posts. They are all in a World Cup of their own making.They are children who can dream.  They epitomise the spirit of the people of Sudan and South Sudan who seek to build better lives.  The challenge for us on the ground, for us in the developed world is to work to prepare these children and support their community to tackle the sober realities of their lives as they move quickly from childhood into early adulthood. Part of our responsibility is to make sure they have access to a fair distribution of this planet's resources to enable them. Part of our responsibility is to ensure they have access to quality education and learning. 

After Easter JRS Maban will enrol almost 500 student teachers in a two-year primary teaching programme. We will continue to support over 900 children in early years education. We will begin a fresh round of computer training and English language training. We will continue to run a daycare service for children with disabilities where their parents receive training on how best to support their children to grow and develop with the disability they have. This is some of our contribution to life here.

Every week here is Holy Week – The scares of human evil tangible on every sense.  It takes some sensitivity to see the constant signs of human hope -defiant and refusing to be extinguished. Easter is always coming in South Sudan.

The Blessings of Easter to all my family and friends. 

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