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 [...]
By Kim Pozniak When I arrived in South Sudan’s future capital Juba yesterday, the joyous preparations for independence were immediately apparent. Landing at the airport, another passenger pointed out the newly installed lights along the runway to allow for night flights. Everywhere you look there are small signs of progress. Driving along Juba’s bumpy, dusty roads, you see women cleaning the streets. Signs for the long expected independence have been put up along small storefronts, on crumbling walls and white washed tree trunks. Spending my first day in Juba, I spoke with many people about their hopes and dreams for the new nation. I want to tell you about two of them. Taban Benneth, 25, works as a driver for Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and plans to see the celebrations firsthand so he can tell his children and grandchildren that he was there when the flag was raised for the first time. “I’m really happy [...]
Andy Schaefer, CRS technical adviser for emergency coordination, was in Agok as part of the Caritas response in Sudan that supports more than 100,000 people forced from their homes by recent violence in the contested border area of Abyei. CRS is a Caritas member. The situation here in Agok is still very fluid. It’s been a few weeks since their displacement from Abyei, and you still see people coming and going. Some are leaving to go further south while others are arriving because they’ve heard from the government that it is safe to return. This is the planting season, so people are trying to make decisions about what they’re going to do over the next few months for food. It is important to them to be able to get seeds into the ground to harvest crops in the coming months. Their very livelihoods are in jeopardy. Markets here continue to be bare. [...]
Andy Schaefer, CRS technical adviser for emergency coordination, was in Agok as part of the Caritas response in Sudan that supports more than 100,000 people forced from their homes by recent violence in the contested border area of Abyei. CRS is a Caritas member. One thing that has become apparent to me while working to meet the needs of those displaced from Abyei is that the Church’s presence really is a symbol of hope. A few Sundays ago during Mass, local parish priest, Fr. Biong gave a speech about helping people to rebuild their lives and the need for continued support during this difficult time. This is such an important message for everyone to hear: the displaced, host communities, and those working to help meet their needs. Priests like Fr. Biong help people to feel that they have not been abandoned. He continues to be with his people seeking refuge in Agok, [...]
The first miracle in Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala’s life happened when he was just a few months old. During a military raid on his village in southern Sudan, soldiers entered his family’s house and killed his mother and sister. They left baby Eduardo unharmed and didn’t burn down the house. Now, 47 years later, he is the Bishop of the Diocese of Tombura-Yambi, and he continues to devote his life to bringing peace to Sudan and to South Sudan which becomes an independent nation on 9 July. Caritas member Catholic Relief Services (CRS) will be hosting a live chat with Bishop Kussala Stay with Sudan. Build a future on Wednesday, June 15 at 1 p.m. eastern time in the United States. Bishop Kussala will answer your questions about his life, the current situation in Sudan and his vision for the future of a new nation. Find out how to join in with the [...]
Available in French and Spanish by Dan Misleh, Executive Director of Catholic Coalition on Climate Change In an article appearing in U.S. Catholic magazine this coming month (April 2011—and posted in December 2010 online), I suggested that those of us in developed nations have an addiction to oil. To overcome this addiction, we might learn from the 12-step programmes that help other addicts: realizing our powerlessness over the problem; seeking a higher power to help overcome our weakness; and taking things “a day at a time” meaning that we should consider how our daily choices have consequences for a warming planet. What we buy, how we move, what we waste, how we conserve, how we spend our time: all of these things impact our planet and its people.
By Jessica Howell, Catholic Relief Services (CRS is a Caritas member) The early days of last August seemed fairly unremarkable for the small Pakistani village of Rajo Bhayo, until the Indus River – swollen from days of unending monsoon rains in the north – breached a protective embankment nearby and came swirling towards the village. Villagers had about an hour to prepare before the flood hit them. “We did not understand what was happening to us when the waters came,” says Soomri, a 75-year old mother of five and grandmother of 23. Panic ensued, with people fleeing to higher ground as quickly as they could, watching their entire village disappear under rapidly-rising water.
By Jessica Howell, Programme and Advocacy Officer, Catholic Relief Services A wizened man whose mirthful eyes suggest more mischief than age, Ariz smirks when asked how old he is. “More than 50,” he said, to the chuckles of his friends and family standing nearby. There hasn’t been a lot to smile about lately though. The floods that tore through his village in southern Pakistan last summer stole much from Ariz – his land, his livestock, and most painfully, his son, Nazeef, who was to be married in one month. “I miss him very much.”
By Jessica Howell, Programme and Advocacy Officer, Catholic Relief Services “Ours was a love marriage,” said Soomri, a frail woman with almond-shaped eyes that seem to dance when thinks about her youth. “He was the only literate man in town,” she said of her husband, “And we were both favored by our parents.” The 75-year-old mother of five and grandmother of 23 lives in a small village in the northeast corner of Pakistan’s Sindh province. Described by her extended family as easily distracted, Soomri seems like she’d just rather tell stories than worry about anything else. With whoever will listen to her, she talks … about her village and the weather and her children. But mostly she talks about her husband.
By Jessica Howell, Programme and Advocacy Officer, Catholic Relief Services Dulshan Bajkani looks to be about 23 years old, but she says she doesn’t know for sure. Regardless of her age, she’s endured more in the last six months than any woman in her twenties should have to bear. Her nightmare began in early August, when record rainfalls throughout Pakistan caused the nearby Indus River to overflow its banks. She remembers hearing about the floods on the news; some people the village left right away but many others thought the warnings were exaggerated and stayed. But the water did come – in the middle of the night – and Dulshan, her husband, and her three daughters fled quickly. Most people left everything behind in the panic that ensued, running away without shoes or scarves and having time only to grab frightened children.
By Kathy Brown, Regional Coordinator, Caritas North America In December, the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change trained their first “Catholic Climate Ambassadors”. They are leaders from around the country who will reach out, educate and empower people in their local dioceses, parishes, schools, and religious communities to be engaged in this critical issue. They will provide a uniquely Catholic perspective and pay particular attention to the impacts of climate change on people in poverty in the U.S. and around the world. The Catholic Coalition on Climate Change was launched in 2006 to help the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Catholic community address issues related to climate change. The Coalition is comprised of over ten national Catholic organisations in the United States, including the bishops’ conference, Caritas members Catholic Relief Services and Catholic Charities USA, and men and women religious leadership conferences. In order to expand the reach of the [...]
by Renee Lambert, Emergency Coordinator Young Sudanese polling officials sat inside a small two room school, silently unfolding ballots while national and international observers looked on. It was just after 7 pm, the polls had closed 2 hours earlier. Outside the school the sun was setting, so the polling officials were counting by the light of small lanterns. Shadows of the young officials unfolding ballots bounced off the walls of the small room and goose bumps covered my arms as I realized the significance of what I was witnessing. My eyes had already welled with tears more times in the past week than could be counted on both hands, but this did not stop them from tearing up again. And I knew that what I was feeling wasn’t even a fraction of what the Sudanese polling officials and observers must be feeling.
By Sara A. Fajardo Click here to view more pictures. Watching the southern Sudanese line up to cast their ballots has been a lesson in civic-duty. Eric Keri, a tall lanky 50 year-old father of 10, refused to leave Sudan until the last day of the vote. Despite having family in neighbouring Uganda he chose to spend the holiday season alone. He feared some mishap would not get him back to Juba in time to mark with a thumbprint, his choice for Sudan’s future: for either the south to remain united with northern Sudan, or to secede and form the world’s newest nation. It was a resolve shared with members of his entire family– each of them voted, some in such far-flung countries as Australia, the U.S. and Uganda.