Sudan Relief Fund (SRF) is a U.S. based 501(c)(3) nonprofit that serves and strengthens the people of South Sudan by providing food, water, clothing, and medical aid; and by developing institutions of civil society to promote peace and stability for South Sudan’s future generations.
SRF envisions a peaceful and prosperous South Sudan with a strong infrastructure and the ability to meet the most basic human needs of its citizens. Currently, 4 million people are displaced from South Sudan. Our mission is to return South Sudanese refugees to a country safe from systemic violence with the opportunity to become a stable nation. Our vision is one of a self-sufficient country with thriving schools, hospitals, governing bodies, and programs that empower the South Sudanese people to maintain their independence and peace. Ultimately, we work towards developing a country able to achieve peace, prosperity, and stability in both the short and the long term.
For over two decades, Sudan Relief Fund has united a community of philanthropic partners like you to give generously and thereby make a transformational difference in thousands of lives in South Sudan and the surrounding region.
YOUR PARTNERSHIP ENABLES DR. TOM CATENA TO ADMINISTER LIFESAVING MEDICAL CARE IN THE NUBA MOUNTAINS
Dear Friends in Christ,
What a year it’s been. As the pandemic continued to rage, so too did tribal violence, rampant famine, and biblical floods. You might think that the enclosed report is going to be full of doom and gloom.
Far from it! Your support of Sudan Relief Fund and its partners has made this seemingly bleak year one of accomplishments and growth. In the Nuba Mountains, Dr. Tom and Dr. Ahmed provided lifesaving assistance to thousands of patients. Refugees who lost their homes to unexpected tribal conflict found their footing on solid ground at Ave Maria Parish. Families in the Malakal region lost their homes and livelihood to record flooding. And from Source Yubu to Tombura-Yambio to Wau, Sudan Relief Fund and our partners found creative ways to bring aid where it was most needed.
In short: Because of you, our partners’ capacity to provide education, healthcare, and aid to the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters in Christ grew monumentally in 2021.
It would be an understatement to say that this year has been difficult and complicated—but it would also be impossible to overstate how much we’ve achieved together. In a year when most humanitarian organizations pulled out of South Sudan, SRF stayed and continued to help those in need. We remain and we serve, with complete trust in God and deep gratitude for you.
Yours in Faith,
Healthcare and Medicine
Mother of Mercy Hospital, Nuba Mountains
2021 was an exceptionally busy year for Mother of Mercy, a 400-bed hospital near Gidel, in southern Sudan’s Nuba Mountains. In this region of around one million people, Dr. Tom Catena and his staff serve hundreds of patients every day.
This year, more people than ever have come to seek Dr. Tom’s excellent care. More patients means the need for bigger and better facilities. We recently broke ground on a much needed hospital expansion. A clinic for eye patients and a storage room for medications have been added—including over $500,000 in medications provided by your generosity.
This is an exciting time for the hospital and the people of the Nuba Mountains. The region has gone from having no surgical hospital to having one with resources to fit prosthetics, repair cleft lips, and bring healthy babies into the world.
Dr. Ahmed Zakariah, El Gigaiba
Increased access to healthcare in the Nuba Mountains goes beyond the expansion of Mother of Mercy. Dr. Ahmed Zakariah worked alongside Dr. Tom until the two decided that the reach of their care would be expanded by Dr. Ahmed establishing a second hospital all the way in El Gigaiba.
Sudan Relief Fund has financed Dr. Ahmed’s hospital from the beginning. Now, we are coordinating with the Nuban Secretary of Health to deliver medicine to Dr. Ahmed and dozens of small clinics scattered throughout the mountains.
Bringing lifesaving healthcare throughout these rural mountains is difficult and complicated. But Dr. Ahmed and his staff are persevering. Through your generosity, he will be able to continue to minister to the people of El Gigaiba.
St. Theresa Hospital, Nzara
Through your support of Sudan Relief Fund, you are helping support and expand St. Theresa Hospital—the only facility providing critical level care to the 250,000 people in Nzara and the surrounding region.
In 2021, St. Theresa treated over 5,500 patients with the medicine and diagnostic equipment your generosity provided. This included complex surgeries performed in the new operating theatre, as well as lifesaving infusions from the new blood bank. A special clinic for those with vision problems is also nearing completion!
One of the most crucial additions to the hospital this past year was the new maternity ward. In South Sudan, one in five children die before their fifth birthday. With your help, SRF supports a Safe Motherhood program and expanded assistance and aid for pregnant women and babies. By helping expand staffing and stocking of key medical equipment in 2021, you saved the lives of mothers and newborns who would have been helpless without St. Theresa Hospital.
During a year of famine and floods, when Sudan Relief Fund and our partners devoted huge effort to meeting the basic needs of people in crisis, we didn’t let up on investing in education. We’re increasing the capacity and quality of schools across the country, often alongside our other areas of aid.
That’s the case at the Ave Maria Parish in Source Yubu, where Father Avelino Bassols has welcomed more than 800 people displaced by violence in 2021. In addition to revitalizing the church, building a health clinic, and sourcing doctors and nurses to run the facility, Fr. Avelino is emphasizing education.
When refugee children arrive at Ave Maria, Fr. Avelino places them in school immediately. He reminds them, and us, that there are two things we can never lose: our faith and our education. In order to accommodate the growing number of children, Father Avelino is adding classrooms to the two primary schools your generosity has already built. Sudan Relief Fund also plans to fund five new classrooms for the secondary school in Source Yubu, as well as laboratories and a library. This ambitious project is necessary because the number of students (now at 148) is expected to triple!
Those students are taught by seven university graduate teachers—but more teachers are needed. Sudan Relief Fund recognizes the need across the country for schools to staff teachers and has helped in this effort by continuing its partnership with Solidarity with South Sudan. Thanks to the generosity and partnership of our donors, we were able to send $150,000 to support Solidarity’s Teacher Training Program and Catholic Health Training Institute.
Your support of the Teacher Training Program has an impact across the young country. Of the hundreds who have graduated from the program since 2008, 70% now teach at primary schools within the country, including those supported by Sudan Relief Fund. And that’s not all! Graduates from Solidarity’s Catholic Health Training Institute work at St. Theresa Hospital and Mother of Mercy Hospital, where your generosity is providing healthcare for the people of the Nuba Mountains.
Your support builds additional classrooms, and by doing so you are building the future of South Sudan:
- SRF has continued its partnership with the Christian Brothers of Instruction at Our Lady of the Assumption School in Rimenze. As class sizes increased, your generosity funded increased dormitory capacity in 2021.
- Construction continued on a science building and IT labs at the Salesian girls’ high school Brother Bernhard is rebuilding in the Wau Diocese.
- Construction was completed on the new block of the Bishop Abangite Science and Technology School in Yambio. Your generosity is providing classroom space to house the large influx of new students, as well as paying the salary of a new teacher.
This difficult year has been a bright one for the children of South Sudan—you are ensuring that they have the tools to build prosperous, self-sufficient lives for themselves!
Civil war and tribal violence have displaced almost four million people since South Sudan’s founding. More recently, catastrophic flooding has added to the forces driving people from their homes. More refugees than ever are being left without food, water, shelter, or medical care. Many aid organizations have left South Sudan because of threats posed by the pandemic, so Sudan Relief Fund is one of the few sources of help for these vulnerable souls.
Sudan Relief Fund moved to provide emergency assistance to the millions of displaced people fleeing tribal conflict in Ezo County in 2021. UN agencies only provided non-food relief to this vulnerable population, so Sudan Relief Fund’s provision of food relief was vital to their survival. You ensured the well-being and dignity of these refugees by providing soap, blankets, sleeping mats, and the transportation of emergency supplies.
Your ongoing support has been crucial in this time of upheaval. No one in the Diocese of Malakal anticipated how decimated the region would be by flooding—300,000 families have lost everything. Pope Francis extended a gift of $75,000 to these vulnerable brothers and sisters in Christ, and you united with him and other donors in providing an additional $100,000 of food and non-food relief to protect their lives and dignity.
Displaced persons are completely dependent on organizations like Sudan Relief Fund for survival. Your support has provided for their physical, psychosocial, and spiritual needs.
Working in the leper colony in Malo, Nurse Noeleen sees these desperate conditions firsthand. These poor souls have been driven from their homes and are left with nothing. Simple things like food, clothing, medicine, or a place to sleep make a big difference. She recently shared the story of Mary, a woman she encountered living alone with no one to care for her.
“I cannot imagine how she had managed … We were told she had typhoid, malaria, brucellosis and stomach ulcers. She was treated there for 14 days on strong IV medication. We got her some clothes, a blanket, hot food 3 times a day and plenty of juice to give her strength. It was obvious that she had never received the comforts of good food and a warm bed before.”
Proper food, good medicine, and sanitary living conditions are vital to Noeleen’s work. With these, leprosy no longer means a life of misery. With these, it’s treatable.
Your support allows Nurse Noeleen to provide essential food and medicine to the lepers of Malo. She is working to provide more than just immediate necessities, as she labors to build a health clinic, permanent housing, sanitation systems, and a well. She asks for your continued support: “Please help those here in any way that you can. And keep them in your constant prayers, as we fight to save the lives of so many here.”
Fr. Federico’s “Small Miracle”
Before Father Federico Loro Gatluak arrived in South Sudan as a missionary seven years ago, he never imagined the violence and poverty he would find in his new home.
When he arrived, Father Federico was especially moved by the number of orphans wandering the streets of the city of Juba in search of food and shelter. Due to war and famine, South Sudanese children are losing their parents and their homes— so Fr. Federico began working with street children.
One night, Father saw a boy with a leg infection die, and then two children shot to death. The suffering of these innocents was too much for him to bear, so he and his fellow Franciscans founded St. Clare’s Orphanage. It began as just a handful of children in an empty house, but has since grown into a thriving home for over 100 children. These children, often traumatized by seeing their parents killed before their eyes, receive food, shelter, trauma support, and medicine.
St. Clare’s is a home for the homeless, but its capacity is strained as police and social services bring more children they find abandoned on the streets. Father Federico works to ensure that the orphanage is a place of hope for children like Samuel, a little boy who came to St. Clare’s two years ago after his mother was shot dead while she was holding him.
“When he arrived, he didn’t speak a word or smile. Now, he has begun to talk and laugh with the other children—we call him our ‘small miracle’!”
Fr. Federico feels called to alleviate the suffering of the people of Juba: “The constant warring, the death, the destruction, the strife—and the overall hopelessness. The people of South Sudan have so little, and that is being taken away from them with each passing day.”
In 2021, your support of Sudan Relief Fund provided Fr. Federico with tools to combat that hopelessness. He has opened a new Pastoral Center at his parish. There, university students were able to use the internet access, which your support provides, to take online classes when the pandemic closed schools. When displaced people come to his door, he is able to offer them food and direct them towards medical care. Fr. Federico is also ministering to the minds of his people who have suffered greatly. He wrote to us, “Just a few days ago, some young men came to our mission thanking us for the Trauma Awareness Course I gave last year, as they are still enjoying its fruits. They asked for more such workshops and activities!”
Here, on the dusty streets of Juba, Fr. Federico is transforming the lives of orphans and adults alike. He is deeply grateful for your partnership, wishing “a great thank you to every donor to Sudan Relief Fund.” He says, “You grant us great help and hope every year!”
A Future for the Children of Wau
Your partnership enables Sr. Anne to provide food and a quality education to the people of Wau.
Sister Anne Wandia, a member of the Franciscan Missionary Sisters for Africa, was first sent from her home country of Kenya as a missionary to South Sudan in 2015. God’s call could not have been clearer to her:
“I only spent a few months in Wau before returning to Kenya, but I knew deep down in my heart I was meant to serve the suffering people of South Sudan. I kept my dream in my heart and a few months later my dream came true. I was assigned for mission in Wau, and I declared I will respond to God by serving the poor, suffering, and marginalized people.”
The poor and marginalized have needed Sr. Anne’s dedication and care more during the COVID-19 pandemic than ever before. The pandemic has affected every South Sudanese citizen, just as it has you and me. In Wau, the most vulnerable—children, the elderly, lepers, and displaced families—have been hit hardest of all.
Hunger is the greatest threat Sr. Anne faces. Even before the pandemic, those on the brink of starvation depended on the Missionary Sisters for basic sustenance. Since COVID-19, that need has multiplied. The Sisters have been the only support system for the lepers of Agok, who are so stigmatized that no other organization will help them. When Sr. Anne brings food to the lepers monthly, she finds them emaciated and dying of hunger. They are completely reliant on Sr. Anne, and on the food your generosity provides.
Thanks to your generosity, Sr. Anne is providing help for many marginalized people. After civil war erupted in Wau, she submitted an emergency appeal to SRF—and your support provided food and non-food aid for displaced families without delay. The Sisters know that Wau will only have a strong and stable future if its children receive a good education. Your generosity makes that happen by paying school fees and providing meals for needy children.
Many of the most vulnerable people of Wau have suffered greatly during the pandemic—from hunger, thirst, disease, and neglect. As the effects of the pandemic begin to ease, Sr. Anne’s devotion to these children of God will only grow.
“Each time I distribute food in the campgrounds, hundreds of households thank me, but deep down in my heart I know it’s because of the efforts and support of Sudan Relief Fund donors. We are always grateful to God for your kind support, which helps us carry on our missionary activities with a courageous heart and maintain our identity, mission, and vision in South Sudan.”
Sudan Relief Fund’s donor community responded with remarkable generosity to the many needs of the people of South Sudan this past year. We truly cannot thank you enough for your partnership!
In 2021, Sudan Relief Fund received $7.8 million from the support of its generous donors. Sudan Relief Fund keeps our staff small and our overhead costs limited so that every one of your generous contributions has a maximum impact. In fact, despite government shutdowns that made it difficult to work in many parts of the country, we still provided over $5 million in support to essential projects throughout South Sudan, many of which you read about in this report.
We’re looking forward to increasing that impact in 2022.
We are especially grateful for the kindness of key foundation partners, who did so much to help amidst difficulties in 2021. We especially want to thank:
The Reed Foundation
Pascucci Family Foundation
Witz-Mallinger Charitable Foundation
We also offer special thanks to every Sudan Relief Fund Mercy Society donor. Your exceptional generosity had a major impact in 2021.
Meet the Team
Bishop Eduardo Kussala
Bishop of Tombura-Yambio Diocese in South Sudan
Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala is the Catholic bishop of Tombura-Yambio diocese in South Sudan. When he was nine months old, his mother was killed when their village was attacked and destroyed. He lived with his grandmother in a refugee camp for five years and when they returned to Sudan they lived in the Sudanese Internal Displaced Persons Camp. These early experiences shaped Bishop Kussala’s passionate dedication to peace.
During the Sudanese civil war he was involved in providing pastoral services to over 42,000 Sudanese refugees in the Central African Republic, and was head teacher of a secondary school in the refugee’s camp. In 2008, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him bishop of the Diocese of Tombura-Yambio. The diocese he serves struggles with extreme poverty and only 2% of the population have completed primary school.
Bishop Kussala holds an MA in bioethics in addition to government politics and international relations, and a PhD in moral theology. He is the author of several articles and three books. His latest book, Reconciliation, Healing and Peace in South Sudan: Reflections on the Way Forward, focuses on the importance of learning from the mistakes of the past to prevent them in the future. He emphasizes that faith plays a fundamental role in the process of preserving the nation for future generations.
Bishop Kussala is also Chancellor of the Catholic University of South Sudan, which was built and is supported by Sudan Relief Fund. It is the only university in South Sudan still functioning and graduating students, thanks to the continued financial support of Sudan Relief Fund.
Bishop Kussala served as president of the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference from 2016-2019. He serves now as bishop of the faithful in Tombura-Yambio.
Since joining Sudan Relief Fund in 2005, Neil has traveled frequently and extensively to South Sudan, developing close working relationships with bishops and numerous groups working in the country, especially: Solidarity with South Sudan; Aid to the Church in Need; Catholic Medical Missionary Board; and various religious congregations such as the Comboni Missionaries, the Jesuits, the Congregation of Christian Brothers, the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), and various Franciscan communities. In his travels throughout South Sudan, Neil has met with and learned from caregivers, doctors, relief aid workers, and local civilians to better understand the country’s most urgent needs and challenges. With support from donors, Neil is dedicated to providing help, peace, and hope for the future by striving to fulfill immediate needs and aiding in authentic, integral human development necessary for long-term growth and stability.
Director of Operations
Before joining Sudan Relief Fund as director of operations, David served with the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), a United States Federal Government commission created by Congress to advise the president and Congress on policies to promote international religious freedom. Mr. Dettoni has led many official delegations to the African continent, including to countries such as Nigeria, Sudan, South Sudan, and Eritrea; he has developed a unique expertise on persecution, the religious dimension to ongoing conflicts in the region, and to religiously motivated violence/terrorism. He also served as the co-staff director of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus.
Vice President of Development
A graduate of Baylor University and Princeton Theological Seminary, Matt’s entire professional career has been spent in the nonprofit sector out of a desire to “help the least of these” (Matthew 25:40). After spending years as a fundraising consultant for a variety of nonprofits, he joined Sudan Relief Fund in 2022 with a goal to bring lasting change to the world’s newest country. In his role as Vice President of Development, Matt serves as an advocate for the vision and mission of Sudan Relief Fund and oversees fundraising strategy. He considers it a privilege to bring individuals into close relationship with the organization by connecting their giving to Sudan Relief Fund’s work on the ground in South Sudan. In addition, Matt works closely with the President in cultivating partner relationships both domestically and internationally. Above all, he finds joy in listening and learning from others.
Program Coordinator, South Sudan
Fred Otieno is of Kenyan nationality and a former religious brother. Fred holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Sustainable Human Development, and a Master’s Degree in Project Planning and Management. For the last four years, Fred has overseen Sudan Relief Fund projects in the Catholic Diocese of Tombura-Yambio. During this time, he has been responsible for identifying the different interventions of various projects and linking them with Sudan Relief Fund.
Fred currently oversees projects in other dioceses of South Sudan. He says: “Sudan Relief Fund creates a positive transformation in the lives of marginalized people, thereby promoting their human dignity. This is a true manifestation of Christ discipleship. Sudan Relief Fund is a Godly driven organization, and this is my motivation in living the Gospel daily. God bless Sudan Relief Fund and all of the donors who support this organization.”