It is a gift of the Lord that we are beginning the new transitional National Government of Unity, here in South Sudan, just as Lent is beginning. There are many challenges and shadows, as well as hopes and energy in the hearts and expectations of the People. The hundreds of thousands in the POC camps (Protection of Civilians) and IDP United Nations camps (Internally Displaced Persons), are longing for a return to their homesteads and lands, the possibility of rebuilding their burnt down and destroyed homes and being able to plant before the rainy season begins. This is all within South Sudan, not to mention the 2 million refugees mostly in Uganda, who need to wait longer and more patiently, in order to see if the peace and reconciliation processes are truly on a path of reconstruction before they start making the long trek home from Uganda. If the peace fails and conflicts resume, it would force them again across the border to the Settlements that have secured them in these years and months of civil war.
Can you believe that this is a country with no functioning electrical grid, with no postal system, where the only means of travel is by air, which of course is prohibitive for the poor, the overwhelming majority of the population. And yet life flourishes, people marry, children are born and welcomed with gratitude and joy; students plot out their future, unsure as it may seem. There is at present a willingness to reconcile, to build peace and unity. There have been 400,000 persons killed during this bloody civil war since December, 2013.
Excerpt from letter written by
Sr. Therese Merandi, MSC
Member of the Pastoral Team, Solidarity with South Sudan