Guest post courtesy of Dr. Ann Evans, longtime partner and friend of Stop Hunger Now. Dr. Evans spent 10 weeks on the ground working with Sudan Medical Relief during a widespread outbreak of kala azar (the second largest parasitic killer in the world) in the village of Old Fangak.
I have been traveling to South Sudan since 2009 to support my friend, Dr. Jill Seaman, in Old Fangak, to do consulting with the Ministry of Health through Liverpool Associates in Tropical Health and to assist Old Fangak in the areas of education, teacher training and women’s development. In 2011, I invited friends from Stop Hunger Now to join me in this work. Since then we’ve accomplished a great deal. We built a fence around the hospital, shipped two 40 foot containers of emergency food for patients and for school feeding programs, brought in medical supplies and three shipments of Plumpy’Nut®, and erected metal roof structures that, when finished, will provide 10 large rooms for education.
But a building is just a building. Schools need well qualified teachers to make an impact. To meet that need, together with Stop Hunger Now, we have sent three teachers to Malakal for training. In addition, the Combonis and Solidarity with South Sudan have been wonderful partners in addressing our goal of improving the quality of education in the region. As I write this, there are 75 teachers in training in the women’s centre that we only just recently put a roof on.
We are in the process of forming a partnership with another organization, Mothering Across Continents, that is expanding educational opportunities in upper Unity state (sometimes known as Western Upper Nile). By bringing together the resources of MAC & SHN, as well as our partnership with others, we are creating a strong alliance to improve the lives of our South Sudanese brothers and sisters.
We intend to address needs expressed by the people, not to impose ’solutions’ upon them. In November, the women begged me for grain grinders to lift them off their knees. In January, I brought 4 white enameled steel grain grinders with both stone and with metal burrs that were donated to Stop Hunger Now. I also had a tall table built for the grinders so the women could stand up tall and grind their grain. Next visit I will bring 4 more. Not only do the women love them, the men are now offering to grind the grain (but the women tell them to ‘get out!’). The smiles on the faces of the women are rewards beyond measure!
Most of my flights within South Sudan have been with Mission Aviation Fellowship. I am always pleased with the professionalism of the MAF staff and their commitment to working in such a difficult area with so many needs. MAF is truly a blessing not only to the people they serve; but to us who serve alongside them. I never forget that.
Thank you for your interest in our work in South Sudan. Like MAF’s work, I believe it is a work of the heart, the finest missionary work that we could be doing to lift people up, to give them hope for a brighter future beyond the war and suffering they have endured. Stop Hunger Now and I are blessed to have the good fortune to do this work.