Children living in war-weary Yei town in South Sudan are getting the opportunity to return to school thanks to support from Connor Diocese.
Connor has been in partnership with Yei Diocese for more than 10 years. Funding from parishes and individuals in Connor, and others within the Church of Ireland associated with Yei, has allowed Bishop Hilary to initiate his ‘Education of Children’ Project.
The funds, totalling the equivalent of US$ 3,000, were donated to CMS Ireland’s Yei Emergency Appeal, and sent out by the mission agency last November. Southern Sudan has been in a state of civil war of the best part of the last half century. There were great hopes for the future following a peace agreement in 2005, and the granting of independence to South Sudan in 2011. During this peaceful period, a number of teams from Connor Diocese visited Yei – Bishop Alan Abernethy himself was there in January 2013.
But civil war erupted again in December 2013, and many thousands have fled their homes and are now living as refugees – the majority in camps in northern Uganda.
At this moment, a team from Lisburn Cathedral is out in Uganda, working in partnership with local charity Abaana in Kampala and with CMSI. This weekend, the team moves from the Ugandan capital to Rhino Camp in Arua to support Bishop Hilary and his diocesan team and clergy. (Learn more).
Bishop Hilary of Yei has compiled a report showing how the funds from the Church of Ireland are being used to support young people still living in Yei.
Bishop Hilary said: “The money was designated for the ‘education of children’ in the Diocese of Yei. The children benefiting from this fund are called ‘Bishop’s Children.’
“This term all the schools in Yei town have reopened, with surprisingly huge numbers of children. Both primary, secondary and one college of higher learning have reopened. We the churches, together with the State Ministry of Education, are encouraging parents to have children registered, and so some children may be learning in makeshift improvised ‘classrooms.’”
Bishop Hilary said the Diocese of Yei Education Department has planned that the money should specifically cater for the education of the children of vulnerable people including sick pastors, and very poor members of the congregations within Yei Urban Archdeaconry. A total of 40 children from these families are to benefit from the funds donated through CMSI’s Yei Emergency Appeal.
Bishop Hilary explained: “The Education Coordinator of the Diocese of Yei came up with a plan to use the money for the education of these 40 children of the very disadvantaged members of the Church community from the age of 3-19 for three years.”
The Bishop said he was impressed that the sum of US$ 3,000 could educate such a number of children for three years. He endorsed the plan and the money has been designated to pay the school fees of these children.
Bishop Hilary expressed his ‘personal appreciation’ to the people of Connor and all who had donated to the appeal and allowed the diocese to fund the Yei ‘Education of Children’ project.
“It would not otherwise have been possible for these vulnerable people to send their children to school this year, having lost all their sources of livelihoods and money as a result of the crisis that devastated Yei,” the Bishop said.
Linda Abwa, Partnership Coordinator, CMSI, said it was a ‘beautiful sign of Connor’s connection with Bishop Hilary’ that he wanted to make people in the diocese aware of the education project.
Linda said funding was also sent to Yei last November for food and education assistance for Yei clergy families and significant funding within that also came from people and parishes within Connor Diocese.
She expressed thanks to the people in Connor who continue to be ‘so generous towards Yei Diocese, especially at this time of crisis.’
Linda will be joining Dean Sam Wright and the Lisburn Cathedral team in Arua to meet Bishop Hilary and his clergy next week.
Bishop Hilary said this week: “I’m looking forward to having our friends from Lisburn Cathedral shortly. I hope they will have great time with us here in Arua.”
You can make a donation to CMSI’s South Sudan Appeal via the CMSI website. To donate directly to Yei Diocese, follow this link.
© Copyright The Church of Ireland Diocese of Connor 2019