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Solidarity with South Sudan

17/09/2012: South Sudan

Recently FMSI has initiated a collaboration with “Solidarity with South Sudan”, a consortium of more than 200 religious congregations that gathered together to respond to the immense and urgent needs of South Sudan through the training ofteachers, nurses and pastoral personnel in several locations throughout the country. The first concrete step in this collaboration is the micro-project that FMSI approved in July for the training of a group of students coming from the Nuba mountains, in South Sudan. The micro-project will allow these talented and motivated students to attend the Solidarity Teacher Training College in Yambio, run under the auspices of the consortium. FMSI is collaborating with “Solidarity with South Sudan” on behalf of the Marist Brothers’ Institute.

“Solidarity with South Sudan” originated with a request from the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference to help them address critical educational, health and pastoral needs in South Sudan. The international headquarters are located in Rome. A central office has been established in the South Sudan capital of Juba which serves as an important coordinating office for the project and offers the opportunity to collaborate with other NGOs serving the people of South Sudan. Five communities (Malakal, Riimenze, Wau, Yambio and Juba) have been established in the country.

After21 years of civil war, a fragile Comprehensive Peace Agreement from 2005-2011 promised a referendum on future unity or separation from the north of the country. The referendum held in January 2011 resulted in an overwhelming vote for separation. With the Independence Day celebrations on July 9th has begun the work of building the new country called South Sudan and of creating unity among different tribes and clans. Fundamental infrastructure and basic human services need to be developed in South Sudan and basic physical structures need to be built in order to deliver the 5 R’s of the Comprehensive Peace Agrement: reconciliation, rehabilitation, repatriation, reconstruction, and re-education.

Because 85% of the country has been displaced, social structures for health and education have been completely disrupted in an area replete with chronic needs on many levels. With 85% of its population illiterate, South Sudan ranks as the most illiterate country in the world. Less than 10% of its teachers have had any kind of training. There is a current unmet educational need for 26,000 primary and secondary school teachers in the Sudan. From a health perspective, the need for trained health personnel is equally severe: one out of four children will die before the age of 5 due to health related illness in a country where there is only 1 physician per 100,000 people. Rates of maternal death at childbirth are among the highest in the world. In an effort to address critical needs in education and health, the combined efforts of Roman Catholic religious congregations are providing professional expertise in training teachers and health care workers through Solidarity with South Sudan. Providing qualified teachers and health care workers helps put a fractured new country on the road to recovery and stabilization.

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