South Sudan was one of the world’s poorest countries before the war, and now, violence, illness, and extreme poverty are destroying the lives of millions.
Following a peace deal in 2005, war-torn South Sudan slowly began to heal. With a fresh outbreak of civil war in 2013, chaos descended once more. Schools and medical centres have been burned to the ground. Abduction, rape, and murder are commonplace. The economy has all but collapsed.
In the village of Maker Kuei, Rumbek, over 10,000 people are fighting for their lives on a daily basis. These are just some of the difficulties they face:
- Unemployment, or jobs that pay as little as €2.27 per month.
- Tribal violence and riots.
- Forced marriages, where young girls are exchanged for “cattle dowries”.
- Lack of medical care, with one trained doctor per 65,000 people.
- A 15-year-old girl is more likely to die in childbirth than she is to finish secondary school.
The Loreto Projects
In 2008, the Loreto Sisters began working in the rural community of Maker Kuei, Rumbek, where daily life is a constant struggle for over 1,000 families who are fighting to survive.
This year, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart are joining forces with the Loreto Sisters to reach out to families who have nowhere else to turn.
The Loreto community have already made changes for the better in the region – but there is still a whole lot more to be done, and they desperately need our help.
South Sudan has one trained doctor per 65,000 people. The majority of people do not have access to medical care, and those that do cannot afford the prescribed medication. Many local people are resistant to modern medicine and prefer to visit traditional witchdoctors. Misdiagnosis, misuse of drugs, and misapplication of treatments often lead to worsening symptoms – or even death.
In July 2016, the Loreto Sisters established the Loreto Primary Health Care Unit (PHCU) in Rumbek. This medical centre provides life-saving aid to local people, especially vulnerable women and children.
• In the first 6 months of the PHCU, nursing staff saw an average of 250 people per week.
• All services are administered by professionally trained nursing staff, with the aid of local trainee nurses’ assistants.
• In addition to treating illness, the PHCU also runs programmes to educate the local community on basic health, nutrition, and sanitation issues.
• The most common illnesses treated at the clinic include unhealed wounds, fungal infections, intestinal worms, anaemia, malnutrition, malaria, pneumonia, sexually transmitted infections, and diarrheal diseases.
The Loreto Primary School caters to almost 700 students, both male and female. Students are guaranteed to have clean water, nutritious meals, access to health care, and a quality education.
The Loreto Secondary School is an all-girls’ boarding school, where students are educated in social and life skills as well as receiving a full academic tuition. Currently, 240 girls attend the school, and the demand for places is increasing as principal Sr Orla Treacy works with families to protect young women from enforced marriage. Additional graduate programmes offer these young women the best possible start in life.
MSCs reaching out in South Sudan
Having visited Rumbek earlier this year, Fr Alan Neville MSC highlights the need for funded scholarships that will allow pupils to study in a safe, secure environment, with three nutritious meals per day. With additional internship and vocational opportunities offered by the Loreto Rumbek Schools, these young women will be able to benefit from a fully-rounded education that will provide them with the best possible start in their lives.
Let’s make a difference
The Loreto Sisters have already begun to generate hope for a future that has long looked bleak, but they desperately need funding in order to allow their medical and educational projects to continue. By working with the Loreto community, the MSC are reaching out to bring life-saving aid to vulnerable families who live in daily despair.
Our 2017 Summer Appeal calls all our mission friends to join with our MSC community in supporting this crucial work in a country that’s crying out for urgent aid.
Special thanks to Catholic Ireland for helping us to raise awareness with their feature on our work with the Loreto Sisters in South Sudan.