Reflections on visiting Yei, Southern Sudan

Posted by Sarah Caughey on Fri, 05 Mar 2010 | 1 comments | Bookmark: digg this Post this to del.icio.us Post this to Facebook

As featured earlier this month, a small META (Mission Experience Team Abroad) from Connor Diocese journeyed to their partner diocese of Yei in Southern Sudan in January. (Click here for the reports from the Connor website).

The goal of this META of three, led by Ven. Stephen Forde (Archdeacon of Dalriada and chair of Connor Council for Mission) and also including David Cromie (Diocesan Accountant) and Karen Bushby (Diocesan Communications Officer), was to lay the foundations for a further META from across Connor Diocese in July 2010 to be led by the Bishop of Connor and Canon Cecil Wilson. The team had a very busy week in Yei, which included: preparing for the impending META, Archdeacon Forde preaching at two Sunday services, David Cromie assisting Yei Diocesan bookkeeper with new packages and programmes, and Karen Bushby, meeting with the local Mothers Union. The team were also able to visit various projects in the Diocese.

Here, Karen Bushby reflects on her experiences of Yei having returned and taken time to process all that she saw, heard, and felt during her week in Yei:

They say the only way to see a place is to actually be there. How true that is. I have seen many images of Africa, but as I was driven along that bumpy road from Yei airstrip to the ECS Guest House in Old Mission Road, my jaw was quite literally dropping.

Because until you can feel the heat of the sun and the dust between your toes, feast your eyes on the fabulous colours not only of the African dress, but the green of the trees, the redness of the ground, the blue of the sky, and breathe in that still, dry air, you can’t really know this place.

There are sounds I will always associate with Africa. The raucous dawn chorus in the luscious gardens in Kampala, the sweeping of a grass brush as the dust is moved from here to there, the beat of the drums in Yei Cathedral.

There are images too – the tukuls that house whole families, roadside shacks selling all sorts, women carrying babies on their backs and huge loads balanced on their heads, children wearing mismatched charity shop clothes with beautiful smiles on their smooth young faces, smiles which reach their engaging mahogany eyes.

I enjoyed my time in Yei. The people were welcoming, even the men. Yes they were poor – but this was not poverty as I have witnessed in the bazaars of New Delhi or the backstreets of Beijing. In Southern Sudan there was no begging, no using children or the disabled to gain sympathy cash from tourists. Perhaps that was because there are no tourists in Yei, only volunteers and staff from NGOs here to try and help this country which has been left with absolutely nothing.

I hear that things were much better than they were three years ago, now Yei has a good electricity supply, mobile and internet reception, new school buildings, wide (still rutted) roads, and a people desperate not to return to the state of war that forced them from their homes for more than 20 years.

But when those schools have no trained teachers, when the pupils have no books, when roads make travel impossible for the majority and, most striking of all, when the hospital has no doctors, there is a long road ahead if these people are to improve their quality of life.

That said, the ordinary people of Yei go about their business, whether that be pumping water at a borehole, carrying produce from the land or market, walking to school, or minding their children, with their heads held high. They have suffered greatly, from the tiny children with no toys and little food, to the old ladies who for years scrapped a living in the bush. And they hope for a brighter future.

I hope that peace holds after the election in April and next year’s referendum. I hope that the investment in both finance and prayer that NGOs and charities, including Connor Diocese, have put into Yei, will help the people of this country to rebuild their lives. I hope that now we have built a school, we can continue to support Yei by helping its people, including the children of Mongo, to help themselves.

Above all I hope that if I ever return, those beautiful children will have even more reason to smile.

For more information on Sudan or Yei Diocese, click here.

Images by Karen Bushby

Comments

musa kiplagat said Tue, 26 Oct 2010 01:26PM
may God bless for your visit to this country that is recovering from civil war.your prayers,moral andmaterial supportwill go a long way in bringing prosperity to this nation-to-be.

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