Mission to Riwoto Southern Sudan
Every year for Holy Faith Sisters, the 11th October is a day of celebration. We celebrate the life and work of our Foundress, Margaret Aylward. Pope Benedict in the document for the Year of Faith Porta Fidei talks about those who have first claim on our attention,. These match very closely the words of John Steiner, a layman who devoted much of his life to working with the sisters wrote that "the poorest of the poor have first claim on us" We asked the question, "who now has first claim on Holy Faith?" One answer is the people of Southern Sudan. Southern Sudan is one of the newest and poorest country in the world.
In January of this year three sisters went to Riwoto to start a primary school, where only 2% of the population has completed primary school education.
We were invited by the Kiltegan Fathers, the need is great, and the local authorities want us. As an ageing congregation the words of Margaret Aylward, are especially ap
We can do but little but that little we do trusting in God
Below is a description from Sr Margo Delaney of the work being done in Riwoto, Southern Sudan
We are building up a Primary School, beginning on the basis of a nursery school named St Mary Magdalen School which had begun before we arrived. We took over the running of that and began Primary 1 with an intake of 46 pupils. We began in a building on the far side of the compound from the nursery school. Over the first term, Fr John Marren organised the building of two additional classroom- a massive feat as all materials and most workers had to come all the way from Kenya.
At the beginning of term 2 we moved into the new building, with its large blackboard and a desk for each pupil. and a teacher's table - absolutely wonderful for a school here in the wilds of South Sudan. We are now just a stone's throw from the nursery school which houses three classes; Top class as one unit and Middle and Baby class as another individual unit. This classroom is grossly overcrowded with 115 in the room, one teacher and one assistant. Our hope is that at the end of the year, we will have an additional trained teacher who speaks Taposa .
We have three trained teachers, all Kenya, who teach in the nursery school. You may ask why we do not have South Sudan teachers; because of the war, all structures - education, transport, etc, have been destroyed and so it is almost impossible to get trained South Sudan teachers, especially here in the remoteness and isolation of Riwoto.
We, Holy Faith sisters, teach P1. The children come mainly from the villages around and often from very poor circumstances. Many ore orphans, their parents having being killed in the war or having died from TB or AIDS. Food is served twice daily, porridge at 10 o'clock and sorghum and lentils at 12 o'clock. In theory, the food comes from the World Food Programme but as in all places where there is great poverty and hunger, the bags of food "fall off the back of the lorry" and don't make it to their destination. Then the parish has to buy the food. We employ two local women to cook the meals and when we need firewood, pay local men to carry it in from the bush. One of the problems with the food programme is that we don't have a cup and plate for each child. That can lead to some conflict! We can get the necessities from Kenya but the cost is too much when the funds are low.
The children are really anxious to learn. We are blessed to have copy books for Top and P1 who also have an English, Math, Science and Social Study book each. However, there are no school bags and that is a real difficulty. Again, these can be got in Kenya .
The children are a joy - full of laughter and great willingness to be in school, thought often they get bored, just like children the world over
Since last year one of the sisters has made not only school bags but uniforms as well
For further information about the Mission to Southern Sudan visit www.holyfaithsisters.org