Peacebuilding is never what you think it's going to be, it's slippery and unpredictable requiring flexibility and extraordinary steadfastness of heart.
I was still flying high from breaking through our $100,000 goal at the Evening For Peace when we boarded the first of our seven leg trip to Yei.
We arrived on dry, dusty roads, roads that should have been puddled with the rainy season downpours. The lack of rain means starvation is again nipping at the heels of every villager. Before we could fully grasp the impact of this news, we quickly changed into formal clothes and headed to Freedom Square to commission the first 300 recruits to the Yei River State Police Force.
Young and old, male and female these 300 former rebels, soldiers, farmers, and mothers hailing from different tribes, had all been vetted for the $5.00/month job of providing peace and security on a daily basis. Their faces radiated an optimism that their tired, worn out clothes did not. Sherry, a Water is Basic supporter, saw this as the moment where she knew exactly what to do with the small inheritance her police officer father had left behind.
Two days later all 300 were singing, and dancing and startling everyone in town as they marched through town in their brand new tracksuits. Peace and opportunity, stability, and hope echoed from their unified marching to every person in town and all the way to the capital in Juba.
The next day we opened a brand new well at the Police Headquarters where these men and women will work. How fitting! It was May 10, 1955, that every police officer in Yei was lined up and gunned down sparking a war that would last half a century, claim millions of lives and squander the futures of many millions more.
Almost as if to poke the eye of despair, our 1,000th water well project was a new well for people who are not even South Sudanese. When peace and nationhood came to South Sudan in 2011, the Nuba mountain people found themselves on the wrong side of the border where their extermination became the Sudanese government's daily goal.
Water Well number 1,000, funded by First Church in Coral Springs, was drilled for a group of Nuba Mountain refugees!
As I said, peacebuilding is never what you think it's going to be; it's unpredictable, something new pops up to grab your heart and expand your understanding around every turn. You have to remain ready.
You are invited to give water often and regularly. It makes so many other things happen, like peacebuilding.