Impact South Sudan focuses on refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who have witnessed incredible violence, fled their homes, and suffered immensely because of lack of food, clean water, and shelter. Our primary goal is to bring sustainable development through economic empowerment, education, and programs for children at risk.
Detailed Implementation Plan
Windows of Opportunity
Lots of activities have been happening at Windows of Opportunity over the last six months. English classes have been held for staff and their children on a daily basis. In order to make this training sustainable, a teacher was hired in June 2016 to run these classes. Learning English is one of the many ways in which Windows of Opportunity is equipping their staff to be leaders in their communities.
We purchased a second land plot in August 2016. The purpose of the second plot of land is vegetable farming, allowing Windows of Opportunity to employ more people and use the farm site as an outlet for community development. This new land has a huge amount of potential and we are excited to see it as is begins to develop and serve the community.
We have also hired two staff members to oversee and work on the farm. Initially more than two were required due to increased labour at start up. The new staff planted crops in September 2016 with hopes for a good harvest in the coming months. In December the number of staff was reduced to two in order to make the program sustainable. Farming has become increasingly challenging in South Sudan due to the very poor condition of the community. However, Windows of Opportunity is confident that we will be able to sell our produce and provide income and increased food security to the community.
The unstable political situation in South Sudan poses difficulty when planning for the coming 6 months. We have had to evacuate our farms and travel to safety. As of February 2017 programs have been placed on hold with the exception of the 40 Days with Jesus program which will continue despite the situation.
The last 6 months have looked a little different than planned due to the political situation in South Sudan. Over the summer programs ran smoothly. Melodie ran a class on working with children with special needs that was very successful. ECC has been running, and will continue to run, an in-service teaching program in nearby refugee camps. This program consists of a training curriculum for teachers who are currently teaching in the camp but are not qualified teachers. The current class will be graduating at the end of February.
Classes at ECC were forced to shut down in the fall due to the conflict. However, the students who were enrolled at the time were still able to graduate and receive their diplomas. Many staff and students were evacuated from the ECC compound. Now the compound along with remaining staff are filling the role of a safe house. One government soldier commented after visiting the compound two weeks ago, ‘this is the only place in this area where people are leaving together, healthy and happy.’ While living in between the enemy line ECC enjoys the protection, favour, and respect of both fighters. We are aiming to resume classes in February in Yei (approx 20 miles from our compound) while the compound building remains a refuge for those who are caught in the middle of the conflict.
The current conflict poses a challenge in planning for the next six months. Classes are planned to begin at the end of February in Yei as the campus is still unsafe to return to. If the conflict subsides we will continue classes as normal at the campus and we hope to begin the process of raising funds for school fees for those who cannot cover the cost of their own fees making education even more accessible to the community. We will finish the construction of chairs and benches for the classroom, library, and dining hall so that the school compound will be better able to serve the students’ needs.
Stories of Transformation
Windows of Opportunity
Below is a thank you letter written by one of the program beneficiaries to the program leader:
Many thanks to Rev Alex for all the efforts of passion and love you have shown to many of us in South Sudan, there are many reasons I could take this opportunity to appreciate you. One of the reasons for recommending your work together with your friends from the west has been the exemplary lifestyle you portrayed to the our entire community.
Through the banana growing training programs, and among the people who have interest to get the training, you have also displayed a very creditable character to most of our idle people of whom most have given up due to not meeting their day-to-day average income. One outstanding help as a native farmer I have a new ethic of growing bananas from your program. We used to allow our banana suckers grow wilder, which reduce yield of the bananas during harvest. Now I am expecting to take this training process and put it into action.
The second reason that I have a testimony about it is the regular biblical class that benefits our community. I have considered the institution that you are working for to be the most trustworthy institution, with the right people who even sacrifice, work alongside the grass root community, laying their hands on the actual piece of work as we learn practically. The biggest lesson I have ever learned in my life is seeing people grow one crop like the banana you have put along kibo river.
I wonder whether you have realized that your small piece of land for the banana plantation has a very great impact to the entire population of the people of this county. You are always the topic of discussion about the impact of the activity you have displayed not to only Beliak but whoever crossed through there and gets your actual demonstration.
You have taught me a great deal as a servant of the Lord in the ministry of serving his people. We were only spiritual, now has come the time for me to accept to work hard and be able to deliver the right spiritual message to the people of God. My wife quickly said Alex thank you for that spirit of working to support pastors to work harder for their homesteads and in support for the desperate.
Another request is that if you could provide literature material for spiritual training programs wherever we have our farmland, and get some volunteers to help raise spiritual disciples particularly the youth.
*Nyombe also reported that the approach of Window of Opportunity has encouraged many families to have a healthy diet even out seasons where some food nutrients are expected to be scarce. This has been a positive challenge to the entire community, having learned a great deal.
A member of ECC sent this story of their evacuation from the ECC campus:
The ECC students, staff and families (about 250 people) left the ECC campus in Goli and marched to Yei on foot without any military escort or weapon in their hands but they had a song of faith on their lips, ‘We are marching in the light of God.’ Pastor Angelo Geri put on his pastor’s code and this time with a rare stick; a walking stick. His uniform had been known to be a sign of danger. Students had believed that if you see Pastor Angelo on his pastor’s uniform with a big cross, something dangerous might be coming. So, when you see pastor Angelo in his pastor’s suit, be on alert.
The principal appeared on the scene with his car and gave it to Guguti, our head of drivers. “I am going to walk,” he said, “Drive this car and let the little children sit in there.” He too was wearing a big cross. This was also a rare symbol, for I have not seen him wearing a cross. His two girls Rosina and Grace could not control their drive to join the walking group of students and staff so they stepped out of the car and joined the walking group too.
Quickly we got every child under 12 years, old women, and sick people into the few cars which we had and started our journey. It was like the Biblical Exodus. The only difference is that we are going to various destinations and surely not to the promise land. It was 9 in the morning.
While the previous group had to walk through the bush to sneak into the town this time we decided we are going to march all the way to Yei and enter officially because children, the cars, the Principal and his senior staff cannot go into town through the bush. They have to walk in the light of God and enter the town triumphantly.
Within two hours the first group of young men covered seven miles. However, they landed in some trouble when a few gunmen stopped them and told them they are going nowhere. I was still behind walking with those who had started to show some sign tiredness. Reaching the scene I saw the students and the young staff gathered and it was clear there was a problem. I tried to enquire what the problem was and I was told, “we have no orders to allow this big population to enter town.” It was 11 am so we decided to have an early lunch on the spot and I was sent for a five hours mission not marching but walking. When I came back it was 4:30 pm. We have been permitted to enter the town, but there was still 13 miles to cover. How can we break that distance with 250 people and among them many children, women, older people, and sick people?
Our drivers quickly decided they were going to shuttle people, as many as they can get into the car, to beat the time. They started with children, old people and sick ones — all those who could walk should start the journey first. By 5:30 pm the ECC community was lining up with their banner to march into Yei town, now at Yei Girls Secondary School. Now it was about 4 miles to go, but they had to march conscientiously because no civilian car had driven on this road for the last six or seven weeks. Only military trucks and tanks have been masters of the Yei-Goli Road.
Around 7 pm the team arrived at the government military checkpoint in Yei. They had sang loud and clear as they approached the checkpoint and by the time they arrived it was clear the church is coming. The soldiers had heard it. They were welcomed and served by the national army. Reaching the man in charge, Rev. Angelo found him to be one of the officers who had visited ECC about three weeks ago; the officers were well received and treated well on the compound and in turn he equally received the ECC community and made their entrance into Yei easy and triumphant. Truly what goes around comes around.
The situation is South Sudan means that we are not able to plan for any teams over the next six months thus far due to safety concerns.