|Loreto RUMBEK South Sudan|
Mary Ward Week was celebrated in Rumbek South Sudan as it was in all the schools in Ireland. The new teacher training group in Sudan included 7 of our past pupils and 5 young men from the area who are helping in the Primary School. The teacher is Sr. Margo Delaney, a Holy Faith Sister from Wexford. Sr. Margo, who not long ago concluded her term as Superior General of the Holy Faith Sisters, is now part of the team Solidarity for Southn Sudan.
"The Lord has done Great Things.... Indeed we are Glad...."
2011 has been a significant year for Loreto, Rumbek, South Sudan. On 9th July, we celebrated with joy and happiness the independence of Africa's newest nation, the Republic of South Sudan. It was a truly wonderful day for the South Sudanese, a day that many had only dreamt about. We pray for the future, that it will bring justice, peace and prosperity to all the people and expecially to women and girls. In a country whose population is 85% illiterate, the first challenge is definitely education. Not merely teaching people reading, writing and arithmetic, but building a personal identity, the shape of a people, a nation looking to the future.
Outside our school gate, a white stone has been placed as a road sign, a signpose for anyone following the great colonial road that leads to the city of Wau. Half in jest we say: "The stone which the builders rejected has become a corner stone". The Loreto Girls Secondary School in Rumbek is the only one of its kind in all of the emergent state of South Sudan, and to be here means to touch with one's own hands the "revolutionary" force of education. The rejected stone, in this instance, refers to the girls of the Dinka, the chief of the Nilotic tribes of these plains of South Sudan. Instead of shouldering the burden of domestic labour, the girls receive the opportunity of schooling and education and they prepare to become a leaven in their society. In their development into fine young Sudanese women with Christian values, we see God doing great and beautiful things here. We find in them an openness to the things of God and a thirst for education for themselves and for other girls. On Mission Sunday weekend, scripture sharing and prayer sessions led by Brother Luc of the Taize community in Nairobi were greeded with great enthusiasm and involvement by all. Many of our girls have asked to be prepared to receive the sacraments in the Catholic church and their evident enjoymnet of these meetings is a great encouragement. As the end of November, the first students of Loreto, Rumbek will sit for the South Sudan Secondary School Certificate and we all are looking forward to a celebration before the end of the term to mark their graduation.
As the number of girls applying for a place in Loreto increases, we plan for the needed educational facilities. A significant step in the development of the school building project was marked recently when two fine science laboratories were blessed amid great dancing and jubilation. We are very grateful to all those who support us with their prayers and donations and especially our star province fundraiser, Sr. Redempta Horan.
Rumbek - our NEW CAR: This year, with the help of the new car, we will be able to take more students to computer classes. These classes are held in a local Jesuit community, ten kilometers from the school. We also hope to offer swimming lessons to the older students, in a nearby centre. Attending Church is a great social and prayer activity for the girls and we will be able to bring more students to pray in the local Parish. The Local community will also benefit from the new car. Our nearest health centre is eight kilometers from the school, too far for the seriously ill to walk. The neithbours know that if there is a health emergency we are available to help them. It is difficult to fully explain the full benefits of the generous contribution by the "Flatley Foundation" it has contributed towards a better future for our students and neighbours. We pray with our Sisters there and the school students and the emerging new Nation of South Sudan that there might be peace, stability and justice.