How do you explain a visit like this? In 12 years of working in Sudan and the South Sudan I have not seen change happen this quick.
Since February everyone is noticeably thinner and 80% of the shops have closed. Family's are eating one meal a day or choosing who gets to participate in that meal.
On the other hand, the Vice President arrived on the same day as I did and heartfelt apologies have been given by both he and the President. Their is a air of hope.
We met with the newly installed governor of the brand new Yei River State and we talked for more than an hour. This man has passion, vision and faith. We talked water for all, development, cooperation and then he handed us their plan for the first 500 days. This is leadership at its finest.
I am sitting on the plane out of Yei with my old friend Moses the Minister of Finance for the State. He is chomping at the bit to see Yei State rising and wants to come to the states to spread the vision and ask for our support.
Yet I am reminded of James Luwata back in his village where we have just completed a bore hole repair. Whisked away as a "servant" to Khartoum at age 5 he cared for a family for 25 years. He was only able to return to his birth village in the South when he escaped form the Amy of the north. He has not left his land since, no matter how tough times have been. His eyes tell two stories, one of long years of suffering another of hope for the future as his grandchildren zipped around our crew repairing their one well...broken for more than a year.
We have have been requested to repair every single broken borehole in Yei State. We are now building a coalition with other NGOs to work together to address water, health, sanitation, education, commerce; each with in their specialty but all as one. If we can't make it work here with this kind of committed indigenous leadership where can we?
Yes now truly is the time. The people of South Sudan they need your focus, your attention, your intentionality.
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Together we can spur change, together we can serve well, together we can see a new state, a people, a country rise. It has happened before, now is the time for South Sudan