Build a Life for Vulnerable and Impoverished Kids
Rimenze is a weary community that has seen more than its share of suffering and hardship since the beginning of the civil wars and unrest in South Sudan. Once a self-sufficient population with infrastructure and commerce, the area was utterly devastated by the brutal warring forces that left little remaining in the aftermath.
Only shells of some structures survived – such as the church and school built by Italian and German missionaries back in 1940. The church and its vicinity became the site of a massive refugee camp that developed during the conflicts. Thousands of families gathered there even though there was little to sustain them.
Thousands of children needed schooling following the destruction of buildings. A massive 70% of the region’s children had nowhere to go and were not attending class or receiving any instruction at all – an unsustainable statistic for the future of South Sudan or any nation.
In 2013, with the help of our organization and the Brothers of Christian Instruction, improvements were made to refurbish a school building to begin holding instruction for the children again. “I would describe the Christian Brothers School as an oasis in an area that is clearly in need of one,” said Brendan Gotta, Director of Stewardship for Sudan Relief Fund. “Brother Achillies, who is in charge of this school, has done a splendid job of building that oasis and allowing hundreds of students to feel like they have a home.”
In 2020, we helped add dormitories so more children could come to school and have a place to stay, many of whom are orphans of war. “Many don’t have families to go home to, so this school really is their home, not only during the school day but at all times,” said Gotta. “The kids have a place to sleep and a bed that’s all their own. For many of them, that makes all the difference in the world.”
Currently there are over 800 children attending the school known as Our Lady of Assumption Primary School. But the school has only small rooms and no place to gather everyone together in one place. Much activity is still done outside in the hot sun, except when rainy season makes this option impossible.
Because the school is in great need of a large gathering space, their hope is to erect a multi-purpose hall to serve as an area to meet an entire host of needs that currently take place outdoors. One use would be a dining hall. As of now there is nowhere to serve meals for the children, so they eat scattered all around the building and premises. Another use would be a place for worship. Because there is no large room in the school, there is no gathering space for worship services.
The facility would also be used as a meeting area for parents and community members, and a test-taking center for exams, since local authorities recently designated the school to be the administering center for all final exams in Rimenze. In consideration of COVID requirements, it would afford room for social distancing, so children could still attend class while meeting regulations.
Most of Rimenze’s children remember nothing other than life in refugee camp environments. Burned out structures, lack of food or clean water, little to no medical help, and a weight of despair toward the future have characterized daily life. The return of a school facility has been an incredible blessing in their lives, sparking hope and encouragement.
“The morale there at the Christian Brothers School is incredible,” Gotta described. “You’re looking at about 800 students who are happy. They are fed. They are educated. And they feel like they are part of a family.” He noted the children here “feel like they’re kids — which in South Sudan and Sudan is not honestly typical. The fact that the Christian Brothers have found a way to host a school that allows for that, and breeds that type of feeling, is incredible and quite a testament to their work and dedication.”
Besides the obvious need for gaining skills to become viable adults, the school serves another essential purpose. Here children receive the key element of spiritual and moral development, crucial for children coming from a history of wartime displacement.
According to the Christian Brothers, the “war mongering mentality among the youth that promotes rebellion…is a great hindrance to peace and progress.” The school in Rimenze provides a vital antidote to the contagion of errant cultural ideas, instilling young minds with values that promote peacebuilding.
Because of the history of displacement, “there are so many children who, to date, have not had an opportunity to access formal education,” the Christian Brothers report. The group specifically targets underprivileged children to bring education into their lives. The new multi-purpose hall would vastly increase space to allow for even more children.
Would you have a place in your heart to give a boost to children who’ve known only the hardship of life in a refugee camp? In developed nations, it’s difficult to imagine not having a place to go to eat, to attend church, to hold a meeting, or to even have a roof over your head while sitting in class at school.
This simple structure, while just one building, will open up many opportunities for the children of Rimenze. Its value goes far beyond the mere worth of its construction. It increases schooling, provides community, brings healing, and fosters hope.
Please partner with us to give this opportunity to the children of Rimenze. A little that you give will go so very far in reach and impact.
Sincerely,Neil A. Corkery President
PS – Please help this to be a year when more children can have the chance to go to school in Rimenze. Your donation will change their lives forever.
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