Primary Schools in Riimenze
I recently returned from a 10-day trip to the world’s youngest country, where we are seeing a massive exodus of people escaping violence, growing famine, and a ravaged economy. Those who remain in the country are struggling to find a semblance of normalcy.
One of my many stops included Riimenze, where more than 7,000 displaced men, women, and children are living on church grounds because they had to seek refuge. Years of conflict have damaged or destroyed nearly everything that might hold a community together—homes, churches, farms, and especially schools.
During my visit, I met with a remarkable man named Joseph. In the 1960’s, he was 12 years old when the militant Muslim Sudanese took over and nearly destroyed the Riimenze village. Joseph described his painful memories of the army embarking on a crusade of brutal violence. When the tanks rolled in, he hid with other children in the bushes for hours, scared for their lives. He witnessed the soldiers beat civilians, rape nuns, murder priests, and commit other atrocities that are too gruesome to imagine.
Very little remained after the soldiers’ ruthless aggressions. The area’s infrastructure was scorched or wiped out, including the church and the school that Italian and German Comboni Missionaries built in 1940.
Since then, the village of Riimenze hasn’t been the same.
Joseph was one of a few kids who managed to escape and flee unharmed. Other children weren’t as lucky.
Years later, Joseph decided to return to his home village. He now assists with agriculture programs in the community and has made it his life’s mission to rebuild his community. So far, one building has been repaired and converted into the St. Thérèse of Lisieux primary school for Riimenze refugee children.
But much more work is needed. This is why I am reaching out to you today.
A recent influx of refugee students is taking a major toll on the capacity of teachers and classrooms. More than 1,600 children are enrolled for the school year that has just begun. And with only 8 classrooms available, most students have classes outside under the sweltering sun.
Joseph and the Riimenze community need our help to continue rebuilding. Together, we can refurbish deteriorated and abandoned buildings and provide children a safe place to learn and grow.
We are dedicated not only to supporting Joseph’s incredible work, but to also building a better life for this fragile community.
“The pledge of support to renovate the school in Riimenze will be of great benefit to the children,” says Bishop Kussala.
For the refugee children here, St. Thérèse of Lisieux is more than just a school. It’s also a place where they can make friends and begin to rebuild a community.
As the violence continues, more refugee children come to Riimenze. Maintaining a functioning school is crucial to helping restore to these children a sense of safety, stability, and normalcy. But in order to do so, greater resources and more space must be made available for St. Thérèse of Lisieux.
For just $30,000, we can renovate the school and refurbish 4 dilapidated classroom buildings that are currently uninhabitable.
But we can’t do it without your support.
This country is still engulfed in a violent war and we must continue peace-building. There is no doubt that an uphill battle for stability persists. But in the midst of misery and ongoing hardship, our team remains hopeful.
So please, give what you can today. Your generous gift could completely change a child’s future.
Neil A. Corkery
PS. Thank you and God bless you for your caring heart and generosity in helping a child today.