My Visit to St. Mary Primary School in Yambio – 2019 Blog Part 2

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The students and faculty highlight the poor conditions of St. Mary Primary School and extend their gratitude to the Sudan Relief Fund for their efforts to restore the facility.

This past spring, I took a weeklong trip to South Sudan with the Sudan Relief Fund’s Director of Operations, David Dettoni, to visit the locals and see how our relief programs are helping the community. As we detailed in our previous blog post, we spent some time in the small town of Yambio and met with Bishop Eduardo Kussala and many of the local citizens. While we enjoyed celebrating David’s birthday with the community, our main goal was to remind the citizens of Yambio of our mission to help their town prosper in the areas of education, agriculture, healthcare, and more.

During our trip, we checked in on St. Mary’s Primary School, which is the only vibrant primary school in the Catholic diocese of Tombura-Yambio. Previously, the school’s walls and roof were in poor shape, and the overall structure of the building was severely lacking the space to accommodate the 1,100 students who would be attending this year. It was heartbreaking seeing this school in such desolate condition, and we knew that the children of Yambio deserved much better.

Thanks to the generous support from our donors, whose donations go toward funding construction, teachers’ salaries, and food programs, as well as help from the members of the Jesuit Refugee Service currently in charge of construction, we were able to kick off the St. Mary rehabilitation project after a long delay. Bishop Kussala himself laid the foundation stone for the second block of classrooms that the SRF has funded, and the first block is currently operational and extremely impressive. Watching the school slowly return to its former glory was rewarding enough, but seeing the hopeful looks in the citizens’ (especially the children) eyes reminded us exactly why we’re doing this in the first place.