Sr. Kathy Arata of Solidarity with Southern Sudan came up with the idea for the 101 Days of Prayer campaign that so many Catholics throughout the world participated in. Photo by Kim Pozniak/Catholic Relief Services

By Sara Fajardo

Women bent over handmade brooms sweep the streets of southern Sudan’s capital of Juba free of dust each morning. On the few miles of paved city roads, concrete road dividers are brightened with freshly planted flowers and saplings. The entry gates of buildings and homes boast fresh green paint. The rows of robust trees along the road that houses the majority of southern Sudan’s Ministry offices are adorned with bright white banners that read “Happy Independent Day.”

Everywhere there are signs of Juba preparing to be ushered in as the world’s newest nation. Even the electoral countdown clock that once ticked away the hours left for southern Sudanese to cast their ballot for self-determination has been reconfigured to flash stats of the Republic of South Sudan’s pending nationhood: “East Africa’s newest nation #6, the United Nation’s Country #193 , Africa’s Youngest Nation.”

Recycling bins and newly minted trash cans are now found on main curb sides under signs that read: Keep Juba Clean and Green.

Even the Church is getting in on the act and has declared Friday, July 8th a day for “Prayer and Cleaning,” and has called on all southern Sudanese to: “clean your heart, clean your mind, clean your house, clean the streets,” in a symbolic act of purification, prayer and reconciliation.

On all fronts southern Sudan is putting its best forward to show the world the promise it holds.

Sara Fajardo is CRS’ regional information officer for eastern and southern Africa. She is reporting from Juba. CRS is a Caritas member.