Dear donors, volunteers, supporters, and everyone who has been praying for the success of our school,
We are very excited to report back to you about our recent Community Engagement trip to Yei, South Sudan. It was an incredible week as we lived and worked with the people of the Kakwa tribe to help make Fr. John’s dream a reality. We are well on the way to opening a school in the February/March time frame. It is very exciting!! There is more to share than can be put on this page; please feel free to talk to board members and trip participants if you would like more details. The guidance of the Holy Spirit was a powerful presence during our time in Africa.
First stop – Kampala, Uganda
We met with members of the Permanent Center for Education (PCE), a teacher training program rooted in the Catholic faith and the dignity of the human person. The philosophy is deeply infused in every aspect of the school and teacher training. We also visited a secondary school where they use this training and it was absolutely outstanding. They provide onsite teacher training at schools; we will be bringing this training to our teachers in Yei.
Arrival in Yei – Saturday, October 25, 2014
Our site and school administrator, Alfred Lomoro greeted us and took us to our home in Yei. This home will be available for anyone who will be coming to Yei to participate in the work of opening the school. There is no running water but there are 4 cell phone providers (doesn’t seem quite right…) but it did allow us to stay connected with friends and family. The house is located in a neighborhood that is a short walk to the downtown area so it is very accessible. The house and the town are both very safe and we felt very comfortable.
Community Engagement Sessions
Our dialogue sessions with the local people were amazing. The people were open and respectful. There were consistent positive themes in the dialogue: God, prayers, love, unity, and collaboration; along with the desire for strong schools, good teachers and successful students. We had 3 different sessions. By the end of the third session we came to consensus about topics as global as the philosophies of running the school down to the more mundane – but significant decisions – like colors of the uniforms! In addition, everyone present made a pledge as to what they would contribute to make the school successful.
Clearing the Land – Staking out the Property
When we arrived, a large part of the land had already been cleared for the school but more work needed to be done. 2 full days and part of another day were spent working side-by-side with the men, women and children of the Kakwa tribe to clear more land, establish well locations and then stake out the school. We were humbled by the hard work and dedication of the people in the community. The picture to the right shows some of the children who could be coming to the school and the land on which the school will be built.
We were able to meet with the Commissioner and Mayor of Yei and the Minister of Education. We were warmly welcomed by all and they are very supportive of our project. We visited the Juba Teacher’s College, the Juba Rotary Club and the Yei Teacher’s College. We will work with the Teacher’s Colleges to recruit high quality teachers and we hope to partner with the Yei Teacher’s College for their student teaching program. We also met with Bishop Elias Taban, an internationally known priest with the Evangelical Protestant Church; he is a wonderful connection for us. He will be helping with paperwork necessary to get the buildings across the border and he joined us as we staked out the land for the buildings and the well.
The Catholic Church
We attended mass on Sunday morning at Christ the King Church. The church was packed and at the end of the 2 1⁄2 hour service (think “Sister Act – African style!) we were introduced and warmly received. We also attended mass on All Saints Day at Fr. John’s home parish – St. Joseph’s. It was a beautiful way to end our time in Yei – sharing in the Eucharist. The entire week was filled with the most incredible blessings and so many grace-filled moments.
This is an exciting time and we look forward to sharing more with you as we continue to move forward.
Steve Deick, Cris Fischer, Susie Foley & Chris Pierret