Unmistakable, unforgettable...The dedication of Mongo Primary School

Posted by Sarah Caughey on Fri, 08 Oct 2010 | 0 comments | Bookmark: digg this Post this to del.icio.us Post this to Facebook

After an initial fact finding visit in 2005, it was the vision of our then rector, Archdeacon Patrick Rooke, now Dean of Armagh, and the Select Vestry of Agherton Parish, to found a primary school in the Diocese of Yei, in Southern Sudan. Parishioners responded magnificently, and the sum initially requested was raised within two years. However, within this time costs escalated hugely, and to complete the project the initiative was extended to the whole of Connor Diocese.

Now the building is completed and furnished, 400 pupils are enrolled, and in July a group from Connor Diocese travelled to Sudan for the dedication of the school.

Such a welcome! We arrived in the rainy season. Two days of heavy rain made roads and pathways impassable. But the day of the dedication was hot, bright and sunny, and the fifteen mile journey to Mongo from the town of Yei, where we were staying, was just possible. Fifteen miles doesn’t sound much – almost two hours of lurching along a roadway deep in mud, pitted with chasms, navigating rock formations, plunging through troughs of water,- fifteen miles was far enough. And with plenty of prayers, we got there.

The people of Mongo had gathered to meet us, with a welcome that was overwhelming. They danced, they sang, their joy and thankfulness was unmistakable, unforgettable. As is the African way, there were many speeches, much feasting (this reserved for the special guests), groups singing, dancing, performing a play – with a message about road improvement! – then everyone dancing, singing, celebrating a momentous occasion with great thanksgiving. All presided over by Bishop Hilary Adebe of Yei.

The building of Mongo School is a truly wonderful achievement. And as so often in Africa, and maybe the world over, things are rarely straightforward. Many, many teachers are unqualified, including all but the principal in Mongo School. So there is a great need for teacher training. Not least because the Sudanese government has decided to “downsize”, i.e. dismiss, unqualified teachers. During our stay we visited the impressive Yei Teacher Training College, which offers a two year course. However, there are costs involved in sending teachers for training.

As ever, I return from Africa humbled by the strength of the people in facing many adversities, by their faith, courage and cheerfulness, and in my heart I hold a special place for the people of Southern Sudan.

Judith Hegan, Agherton Parish

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