July marked the 10th anniversary of the establishment of our new country South Sudan. Between concerns for Coronavirus and insecurity around that, there has not been any big celebration this year.
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Over these weeks there has been much for us to be concerned about. With weather there has been a serious lack of rain, there has been heightened insecurity as neighbouring clans took to fighting and there is the ever present threat of Coronavirus.
It has been an extraordinary month here in Loreto Rumbek. We have experienced one of our greatest challenges to date, with the violent attack on our Bishop-elect.
This time of the year marks our winter, that means we have cooler evenings and no rain. The dry season brings a welcome end to the high number of cases of malaria and also the flooded roads. Already we are seeing high numbers of trucks driving on the dusty roads.
Malaria season is still with us but we are coming to the ends of the rains. The roads continue to remain flooded and impassable by vehicle, this has probably saved as travellers are uncommon in these months.
As we close the month of September so much has changed for us. The fields are harvested, the students, albeit it exam classes, are returning and our teachers are back from their different places of quarantine.
August has been a busy month for us here. Thankfully the rains have helped as we begin to harvest our groundnuts, it goes some way to help alleviate the hunger but we are not over the hunger period yet.
Currently we are seeing over thirty new cases a day of malaria into the clinic, sadly many are young children. There is still no clear update on the situation with Coronavirus in the state though our local hospital hopes to become a testing centre.
As we begin the month of July we do so with a sense of hope, though life hasn’t been easy here in Rumbek. We have seen an increase in clan fights and revenge attacks, an increase in malaria, rains have been late and people are still struggling to plant and then there is coronavirus.
"Life has dramatically changed since the last UN Update in February, then few of us knew of Coronavirus or Covid-19. For some months, it seems that lives have stopped, yet inequality, injustice and the climate crisis continue. In fact, this pandemic highlights the inequality and injustice around the world." UN Newsletter Update Issue 37.
The journey of Coronavirus is becoming very real for us. In our capital of Juba many of our top political leaders have confirmed they are positive for Coronavirus. A number of confirmed cases are now present in our town.
South Sudan is just beginning to register the reality of the virus as more cases are being reported from the capital city. Our schools are closed for 5 weeks and already we are sadly hearing stories of students being forced into marriage.
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Like the rest of the world our programme has dramatically changed in the past few days. We began the month with celebrations as we welcomed the great results for our graduates but the news of the Coronavirus began to spread fast.