On the 23 November 2017, Pope Francis presided at a prayer service for peace in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo organised by Solidarity with South Sudan. The service was held at the Vatican Basilica in Italy and recognised the vital work being done by Missionaries in both locations.
South Sudan, independent from Sudan since July 2011 after decades of civil war, is one of the world’s poorest countries and ranks among the lowest in many socioeconomic categories. Problems are exacerbated by ongoing tensions with Sudan, fighting between government forces and rebel groups, and inter-communal violence. Educational attainment is extremely poor and less than a third of the population is literate, half live below the poverty line.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) struggles with many socioeconomic problems. Ongoing conflict, mismanagement of resources, and a lack of investment have resulted in issues such as food insecurity, high infant and maternal mortality rates, malnutrition, poor vaccination coverage and lack of access to improved water sources and sanitation.
Solidarity with South Sudan aims to create self-sustainable educational, health and pastoral institutions and programs that will help to empower South Sudanese people to build a just and peaceful society. Solidarity is a collaborative commitment of religious institutes of men and women, members of the Unions of Superiors General and the Church in South Sudan working in partnership with the Sudan Catholic Bishop‘s Conference. (Source: Solidarity with South Sudan).
Misean Cara members work in partnership with Solidarity with South Sudan across a number of different areas including education, health, capacity building, water and food security.
One project funded by Misean Cara and run by the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Loreto) is the Loreto Secondary School in Rumbek. Traditionally girls in Rumbek are considered for marriage at a very young age and do not progress to secondary education. The school allows students to continue their education in Southern Sudan rather than travel to Uganda for secondary school, as well as providing a secure environment with dormitory facilities for the girls.
Photo caption: Students carry chairs to class at the Loreto Secondary School in Rumbek, South Sudan. The school is run by the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Loreto). Photo: Paul Jeffrey.