28 giugno 2012

South Sudan: Building a Country from Scratch

June 25, 2012. (Romereports.com) After years of civil wars, South Sudan separated from the northern part of the country on July 9th 2011. But after celebrating its independence, came the stark reality of having to basically build a country from scratch.

Sister Pat Murray first visited the South Sudan  in 2006. During a forum organized by the Australian Embassy to the Holy See, she talked about what struck her the most.

Executive Director, Solidarity with South Sudan
“I'd never seen such a thing like the absence of resources and the absence of infrastructure in particular. At that stage, there were 50 miles of paved road in Sudan, in a country with the same area as France and Germany combined.”

The challenges in South Sudan are immense. Roughly 85 percent of the population is illiterate. Less than 10 percent of its teachers are trained. For the most part, the population has lived in the shadows of wars and conflicts.

That's where groups like 'Solidarity of South Sudan' come in. It includes a religious congregations of women and men who work directly with communities in need in South Sudan.

In addition to helping out with education and health programs, they also promote reconciliation among ethnic groups and tribes.

Executive Director, Solidarity with South Sudan
“In a way you can't force reconciliation. Reconciliation is a gift that you give to another person, so in a sense the victim has within his or her power the gift of being reconciled with another.”

Even though these challenges may seem overwhelming at times, Sister Murray says she finds strength in her Catholic Faith. Part of her motivation, comes from the parable of the mustard seed.

Executive Director, Solidarity with South Sudan
“I think of the message of the mustard seed that the mustard seed grew into an enormous tree and no one even noticed. So, I focus on the mustard seeds that are growing, during teachers training or training nurses, or community leaders or farmers. You see all these are mustard seeds that will flourish and grow  and we will be amazed at this new country which is South Sudan.”

It's not an easy task, but she says seeing progress, even if slow,  makes it all worth it.

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