Ballyrashane and Kildollagh Parishes are preparing for the latest step in their CMSI Partnership with Ibba Diocese, South Sudan.
The Rev Amanda Adams, Diocesan Lay reader, Allan Bond, and parishioner, Olivia Clarke, have completed their training and orientation with CMSI and look forward to travelling to Uganda on October 15.
South Sudan, which became independent in 2011, is currently in a state of civil unrest. The UNHCR estimates that over four million South Sudanese are presently displaced from their homes. Connor Diocese has been linked with Yei Diocese for more than 10 years.
Ballyrashane and Kildollagh’s partnership with Ibba Diocese was established more than seven years ago and so far the parishes have provided bicycles for the diocese and Mothers’ Union, paid for the training of a teacher and helped to put windows and complete the roof of the new Cathedral in Ibba.
In 2014, the parishes hosted the Rt Rev Wilson Kamani, Bishop of Ibba.
During the current crisis, Ballyrashane and Kildollagh have supported and prayed for the internally displaced people who have come to settle in Ibba and provided practical help by raising funds to buy seeds and agricultural tools. The parishes are presently raising funds to support the Mothers’ Union literacy programme which is so vital to the development of family security.
The current level of insecurity in South Sudan means that it will not be possible for the team to visit Ibba. CMSI, however, has been preparing a team 13 people to visit Arua, northern Uganda where all of CMSI’s partner Bishops and representatives from South Sudan will join the team for a Peace and Reconciliation Conference for two weeks.
This is a follow up to the Stormont Crossing Bridges Event which CMSI held last year, with Archbishop Justin Badi as keynote speaker, and an extension of the visit paid to Yei Diocese in exile in Arua in April this year.
The parishioners of Ballyrashane and Kildollagh have been fully engaged with this partnership visit since the outset. In addition to fundraising and making a generous contribution towards the cost of the visit, the Parish Crafters’ group has prepared several gifts and resources to be taken by their representatives. The Mothers’ Union has also provided a Photo Book and gifts and young people in the parishes have provided pictures which will be exchanged with pictures produced by the young people of Ibba.
Amanda, Allan and Olivia will spend their time in Arua listening to their partners’ experiences of conflict and learning first hand of the difficulties which the people of South Sudan face.
They will seek to support their partners through discussion, prayer, bible teaching and youth training, and will also spend some time visiting South Sudanese refugees temporarily accommodated in northern Uganda
On Sunday September 30 the parishes formally commissioned Amanda, Allan and Olivia to represent them on the visit which marks an important milestone in their partnership journey and enables the parishes to honour a promise made to Bishop Kamani that they would send representatives to reciprocate his visit to them and count it a privilege to do so.