John K.Guiney, Director of the Mission Office, left Dublin on 4 October to visit the East Africa Province and confer with the outgoing Provincial, Fr. Orobator, and the incoming Provincial, Fr. Afulo. The changeover will occur on 3 December. John (pictured here with Fr Orobator) will move on to visit Richard O’Dwyer in Rumbek, Southern Sudan, then on to Maban to meet the Eastern Africa Regional Director of Jesuit Refugee Service, Deogratias Rwezaura, and Luca Fabris Entre from Entreculturas.
The visit to the refugee camp in the upper Nile in S. Sudan is being done on behalf of the European Mission Offices network. They, and the IJMO as the lead agency, are funding the JRS project in Maban where over 150,000 people seek refuge from the internal conflict in North and South Sudan. Two Spanish Jesuits have worked there since July 2014, but they were evacuated last month because of violence. In recent weeks, however, they have returned to join a local team offering education, pastoral and psychosocial service to refugees living in a very precarious situation.
Amidst all the challenges, JRS has managed to start training for about 150 teacher from the four refugee camps as well as the host community. According to recent data, more than 80% of the teachers in the camps have not finished primary school themselves, so there is still a long way to go to achieve quality education. JRS has also launched a psychosocial program to train peer counsellors, to support the extremely vulnerable population (so far, JRS has been doing regular home visits to 245 individuals) and to support youth in the camps with some sports activities. Richard O’Dwyer’s report in this newsletter reminds us that a food and fuel crisis in the South is making a difficult situation more precarious as the rainy season ends. They need our prayers that the Lord send a spirit of peace on that young nation.