It’s hot, it's dry, flames are crackling, and the land all around you is burned black. It doesn’t sound like an enticing homecoming does it, but it is in South Sudan!
In South Sudan, the end of the dry season is when folks burn the tall grass off their land to ready the soil in time for the coming rains. Burning is a fast way to get rid of grass, chase off snakes and make your land ready to produce life.
Last year, you will recall, more than 6,000,000 South Sudanese were facing some level of starvation because the war had precluded their burning and planting. This happened two years in a row!
I landed in Yei on February 2, amid rumors that troops were massing into town and conflict was imminent.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
We landed to find smiling people, buzzing markets with shops opening daily, motorcycle taxis zooming about, football matches filled Freedom Square, and our team was completing our 80th well funded by UMCOR.
We landed to find smoldering fields, not as a result of conflict, but in preparation for new life. We found a city in the thralls of peace and the hope that always follows peace.
That Monday, our team completed the repair of the well at Hai Deliab. By that afternoon, before the concrete had dried on the new slab, the word spread quickly about the repaired borehole. Immediately, Michael came peddling up the trail through the teak trees. A few minutes behind him came his wife, mother, and children carrying everything they owned.
Hai Dliab is one of those areas near Yei town that was completely deserted in 2016.
Today, Michael was so proud that his family was the first to return. When he heard about the borehole repair in their village, Michael knew he would rather plant and eat off of his own land then wait for a handout that may never come.
Bamuze Michael Wani, along with his mother, his wife, and 8 children, want you to know that peace has come, they are home, and they are so very grateful for all you have done to make this day possible for his family.
On behalf of Michael and so many families like his in South Sudan, thank you for staying in the game. Thank you, for not giving up. Thank you for seeing hope when many could not see it themselves.