Jan 12, 2021

Educating Girl Groups in South Sudan - Jan 15 2021

Anyier - 10th Grade
Anyier - 10th Grade

Schools are now beginning to reopen after being closed by Coronavirus in South Sudan last April. For now, only the 12th year students that PESS supports have returned. They are required to take national exams soon, so the government allowed them to return to school last October so they can prepare. Other grades will reopen in March. Since there is no widespread internet available to families in homes, there has been no online learning as a substitute for in school classes. Each family is lucky to have a single cell phone to stay in touch with friends and relatives, so communication with students and their families has been difficult.

Even though schools were closed through much of the year and contact with students was limited, Daniel was able to give out personal care supplies to students who came to the office, a few at a time. He has also been able to distribute solar lights so girls could continue to study in the evenings. As students came into the office, Daniel interviewed some of them to find out how they were doing. Let me tell you about one of these students Daniel interviewed over the summer. Her name is Anyier, currently in 10th grade, and a member of the Lion Group. Each PESS supported student is part of a girl group for camaraderie and mutual support.

Anyier shared some of her personal passions in her interview. One thing stood out: She mentioned a woman in leadership whom she admires, Amuor Pach, former Minister of Health. Anyier says the reason she admires Amuor Pach is because of her education. She goes on to say that this gives her great motivation to struggle to go further so that she can be like Amuor Pach, or maybe to hold a position higher than this hero of hers. Wow!  Anyier does not want to be ordinary. She is determined to join the group of women who will change their young country for the better.

Here’s the thing though – a few years back Anyier wanted to go to school and she fully expected that her father would see her eagerness to learn and would send her to school. However, as Anyier says in her own words, “…shockingly, he chose my younger brother to go to school and I was left behind with household chores.” This outcome is not unusual in her world. What made the difference for Anyier is that PESS offered her a scholarship so that she could stay in school. How can a parent turn that down, even a parent who might favor educating sons, rather than daughters? You see, most South Sudanese families are cash-strapped and have to choose.

I hope you grasp the significance – your support is helping Anyier prepare for future leadership. Would you like to support the Lion Group with Anyier as one of its members? You can become part of a support team who each give $35 per month to provide scholarship funds and after-school support for the Lions… and Anyier. She won’t forget it!

Daniel with Lion Group - South Sudanese Scholars
Daniel with Lion Group - South Sudanese Scholars
Nov 16, 2020

Slowed But Not Stopped By Coronavirus in South Sudan

Anyier - 10th Grade
Anyier - 10th Grade

Schools were closed by Coronavirus in South Sudan last April. Since there is no widespread internet available to families in homes, there has been no online learning as a substitute for in-school classes. Each family is lucky to have a single cell phone to stay in touch with friends and relatives, so communication with students and their families has been difficult. Schools are now beginning to reopen. For now, only the 8th and 12th year students have returned. These two grade levels must take required national exams at the end of the year, so the government is allowing them to return to school early so that they can prepare. Other grades will reopen in the early months of next year. 

Even though schools have been closed and contact with students is limited, Daniel, our in-country director, has been able to give out personal care supplies to students who have come to the office a few at a time. He has also been able to distribute solar lights so they can continue to study in the evenings. As students have come into the office, Daniel has interviewed some of them to find out how they are doing. Let me tell you about one of these students Daniel interviewed over the summer. Her name is Anyier, currently in 10th grade, and a member of the Lion Group. Each PESS supported student is part of a girl group for camaraderie and mutual support. 

Anyier shared some of her personal passions in her interview. One thing stood out: Anyier mentioned a woman in leadership whom she admires, Amuor Pach, former Minister of Health for the region of Jonglei. Anyier says the reason she admires this woman is because of her education. Anyier goes on to say that this gives her great motivation to struggle to go further so that she can be like Amuor Pach, or maybe to hold a position higher than this hero of hers. Wow! Anyier does not want to be ordinary. She is determined to join the group of women who will change their young country for the better. 

Here’s the thing though – a few years back Anyier wanted to go to school and she fully expected that her father would see her eagerness to learn and would send her to school. However, as Anyier says in her own words, “…shockingly, he chose my younger brother to go to school and I was left behind with household chores.” This outcome is not unusual in Anyier’s world. What made the difference for Anyier is that PESS offered her a scholarship so that she could stay in school. How can a parent turn that down, even a parent who might favor educating sons rather than daughters? You see, most South Sudanese families are cash-strapped and have to choose. 

I hope you grasp the significance – your support is helping Anyier prepare for future leadership. Would you like to support the Lion Group with Anyier as one of its members? You can become part of a support team who each give $35 per month to provide scholarship funds and after-school support for the Lions… and Anyier. She won’t forget it!

Daniel with Lion Group - South Sudanese Scholars
Daniel with Lion Group - South Sudanese Scholars
Jul 19, 2020

Studying in South Sudan During Coronavirus July 2020

Students come to the office to get solar lights.
Students come to the office to get solar lights.

Do you wonder how students in South Sudan are faring during this world-wide pandemic?

American public life has been upended during four months of wrestling with Coronavirus, not always successfully. The past four months have seemed like four years to many of us. We are quite ready to put this behind us and get back to normal – whatever normal will be, once we wake from the nightmare. Could we expect that things would be any different in South Sudan?

As we might guess, the Coronavirus does not favor one country over another. The difference is that some countries have much more capacity to deal with a pandemic than others. As Covid-19 began sweeping across the globe, South Sudan was ill prepared. Its few hospitals have little modern equipment and equally few medications and hospital supplies. The vice president in charge of the South Sudan Covid-19 response announced early during the pandemic that South Sudan had four respirators in the country – yes, four. Just weeks later, the country learned that this same vice president, as well as all the other members of his Covid-19 task force, had contracted the Coronavirus. South Sudan’s infection case numbers (adjusted by population) land around the midpoint among nations, but testing is so low that we do not likely know the extent of the disease’s impact.

Schools have been closed since the 2nd week of April in South Sudan. There are no Zoom class sessions. Families do not have Internet in their homes, so online learning is unavailable – no teachers, no fellow students, no Wikipedia, or Girl Group meetings. Households are lucky to have a single cell phone, so it has been difficult to even contact students. There is no electricity in homes. Most of the girls are expected to do household chores during the day, so they cannot study before 7 pm when dark falls suddenly on the equator. Then it is too dark to study. Daniel, director of the PESS program, came up with the idea of replenishing the girls' supply of solar lights so they could study in the evenings. He was able to buy 50 of these in Juba, a hundred miles south, and get them transported to Bor, where he works. The solar lights are a big hit, and these gave Daniel, along with his team, a chance to reconnect with the students and encourage them to keep writing and learning. The school year in South Sudan operates all year with one-month breaks between each three-month term.

South Sudan recently allowed the reopening of high school to graduating seniors only. This concession was made because graduates must take national exams at the end of the calendar year and they need to prepare for those important exams. The rest of the students tell Daniel they are eager to get back to school – just like American students, and like students here, they are also likely a bit apprehensive.

 
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