Wotakujong is a small village 5 bumpy hours southwest of Juba, the capital city of South Sudan. This village is home to approximately 12 thousand people who do not have cars and who's houses are build using traditional materials such as mud and straw. There is no electricity in this village, and the nearest town with shops is a multi-hour walk. Water is drawn from community wells and villagers often walk miles to draw it.
While life in the South Sudanese bush is far different than the norms we are used to here in North American, things are also similar in many ways. Like here at home, families are made up of dads and moms which strive to feed, cloth, shelter and educate their children.
Due to decades of civil war however, these families have been severely impacted and entire communities have suffered. Building infrastructure to effectively serve the population has been impossible. At times of the year, Wotakujong residents struggle to produce adequate food to properly feed their families. Resources such as healthcare or education were non-existent before peace, but independence has allowed communities to begin to rebuild.
Civil war, AIDs and other social issues have left a great many orphans and families who are struggling to survive. Regardless, leaders in Wotakujong understand that they must work to build community resources and plan a future for their youth.
Children Arise visited Wotakujong as part of a recognizance trip into South Sudan in January 2012. At that time, we were impressed by the level of effort being made by locals to invest in their children and community. They had almost completed a church and community gathering building and were teaching primary school to over 100 children. Since that time, the school has expanded to provide for more than 300 students.
Some key players in Wotakujong are Margaret and Nathan who are leaders at the primary school. While there, the Arise team was hosted by leaders of the Sudanese Pentecostal Church (SPC) and we connected with a young SPC pastor named Duku Emanuel. A teacher himself, Duku lives in a neighboring village about 18 miles away. Since January, Duku has been able to visit Wotakujong for us several times gathering greater detail about their leadership and their circumstances.
Today, school facilities are inadequate to shelter the number of children attending. In dry seasons, children are able to attend classes under large trees, but in the rainy season this is not possible and school cannot take place. Children Arise has begun fundraising to increase the capacity for primary education in Wotakujong. This project will bring educational materials to students and purchase materials to increase the sheltered capacity of the school.
In addition to helping improve educational capacity for children, Arise intends to build strategic relationships with local leaders and teachers. Through our work with this community and its leaders, we will gain a better understanding of South Sudanese practices and politics. This first project will help Arise gain confidence in our ability to ensure control and direction of funds and in the process improve the educational prospects for many children.
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