As far back as I can remember, I went with Mama to the waterhole. She sang happy songs to me as we walked a mile there and a mile back to collect enough dirty water to keep our family alive for another day. Biut the water she collected to keep us alive was what killed her when I was nine.
It is our long faithfulness to this country that gave us an influential place at the table in peace talks. The goal is grassroots dialogue and agreements that become a model and catalyst for the entire nation. On June 4th, 2017 a cessation of hostilities and peace was agreed to and signed in Kampala Uganda.
By any account these are tough times in South Sudan: more than 1,700,000 refugees have fled to neighboring countries, 1,000,000 of which are children. It would be easy to get discouraged or distracted.
Can you imagine what the people in South Sudan are facing? Recent reports count 7,900,000 suffering severe hunger, and of course, water remains a key need.
Our focus remains on supplying our local South Sudanese team to meet the needs inside the country, where almost 2,000,000 are now displaced. In the past weeks, we have wired funding for 20 well repairs, shipped an additional 6,200 water filters, squeezed a food relief convoy past rebels and flew in some critical medications. This next week I will head to the capital. Watch for an update from there, and in the meantime, Carrie Ward shares below about her experience after her first month on the job.
Listen to her heart, please...
Thank You, Steve Roese
I’m a 42-year-old mother of 2, pastor and wife of a pastor, with previous careers in education and children’s ministry. Why would I choose to change careers at this stage in life?
Over the last month, I have reflected daily on the countless stories of resilience and hope I encountered on my first trip to South Sudan. There are so many, I would like to share two.
Meet Patrobas and Rejoice.
The well in their village was drilled 2 months before our visit. We saw pure joy on their faces as they told us how clean water has not only brought them physical health and promise but clear skin (washing your body with dirty water has side effects as well). They were proud to have their own committee to manage their well. What a sense of purpose and hope they had! In gratitude for our visit that day, they gave us a goat! Understanding the weightiness of that gift, it still hangs heavy on my heart.
We also visited 93-year-old Lucy.
We were there to bring some bags of beans and maize flour as her family of 48 had been eating one meal ON A WEEKLY BASIS. We sat under a mango tree and listened as she joyfully shared the gift of a song to each of us thanking us for the food. I have learned that many in Yei are now surviving on mangoes alone.
Mango season is a short one.
I have such gratitude for the privilege I have to be able to tuck my children into their beds each night. We always have food to eat and space to dream. My heart is heavy for moms in South Sudan struggling to find something to feed their children after spending hours in pursuit of water.
The news of what is happening in South Sudan is not good. But we are seeing hope each day, too. Wells are being restored, portable water filtration systems have been delivered, truckloads of food have been brought into Yei by a military escort. Funds have been raised for medicine to supply the clinic in Yei. All funded by you. In my short time here people have organized fundraisers in Delray Beach, Franklinville, N.Y., Boca Raton, Dallas, Philly, Colleyville, Wisconsin, Indiana, Boca again, Coral Springs, Belton TX, Coppell, and Maine. I’m inspired and overwhelmed by so much:
The generosity of donors
The power of partnerships
The endurance and bravery of the Water is Basic South Sudan Team
The need of the South Sudanese people
The sense of urgency
However, I am most overwhelmed by how many of you are so faithful to this work having never experienced what I have. I’m now aware more than ever how crucial your giving is. On behalf of my friends in South Sudan, thank you.
With grace and peace,
It takes an "act of God" for the international community to use the words FAMINE or GENOCIDE. United Nations treaties require certain responses by the world when those words are used. So when they are used, we should all pay very close attention. Humanity is at risk, and we are all required by our humanity to respond.
I wish I could tell you that we have eliminated the clean water issue in South Sudan but that would be silly. Clean water is a constant task. Here in the United States billions are spent annually to collect, clean and deliver water to our homes and businesses. It is a never ending task. Take a look at Flint, Michigan or the central valley in California to get a feel for what a lack of safe water can mean, here in our own backyard.
Today we stand at another threshold. Together we look out into the murky future of a country seemingly dedicated to destroying itself. Those who can have left, by the millions. Others would like to leave but are stuck moving from one place to another in hopes of avoiding the next outbreak of violence. However, for many, when the going gets tough, well you know how the saying goes.
The truth is that even in the worst of situations people still need water, food, and medicine, and that is exactly why we have focused all of our attention over the last decade on building an indigenous, sustainable local water organization. The Water is Basic team is going nowhere. They are South Sudanese and they can repair wells in hours. We have been able to import food and medicine and well supplies. Our military escorts and staff drivers have risked much as our first truck was attacked for over an hour. Our second convoy made it through without any violence but the already terrible roads are rapidly getting worse and taking a heavy toll on our trucks.