Letters from South Sudan

Solidarity with South Sudan members met together in Rumbek last December to learn about the history of the program and its future and to reflect and rest for a few days. (Patricia Johannsen)
This article appears in the Letters from South Sudan feature series. View the full series.

Today’s letters come from two sisters serving in different parts of South Sudan. As both letters reflect, even in peaceful areas violence is affecting people as they travel, work, go to school and try to live their daily lives.

On Friday, Charity Sr. Patricia Johannsen, who trains teachers in the western state of Yambio wrote:

We continue teacher training at Solidarity with South Sudan Teacher Training College in Yambio. We are finishing exams for 81 in-service teachers. They are untrained teachers who come during their holiday time for two months for more training. Some were not able to come because they live in areas where there has been violence, they had to stay back and try to put their lives back together. In one week we will start pre-service for about 90, some who have come from Nuba Mountains. Though it is peaceful here, there has been an impact because many organizations have withdrawn their volunteers. There continues to be stress in not knowing what is going to happen next. We did have a fuel shortage, but that is over. There is some shortage of food in the market. The trucks are very slow getting here from Uganda. The students are making great efforts to be here and to continue their education. They are from many places and tribes and are getting along peacefully here.  

Yesterday Charity Sr. Janet Cashman wrote from Wau in northwestern South Sudan where she trains healthcare workers:

All has remained peaceful in Wau during these months of violence in other parts of the country. With time people who have lived through the atrocities as well as war stories are trickling into Wau, which makes the war feel more present. We/I need to feel present to the war. In some deep inner personal space this violence is shaping the lives of the South Sudanese; their dreams, their ambitions for a better life into the future have been gravely altered.

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This is the fifth installment of Letters from South Sudan. We will continue share letters with NCR readers, giving a fuller picture of the complexities of political violence and hopes for peace.

[Colleen Dunne is an NCR Bertelsen intern. Her email address is cdunne@ncronline.org. Follow on Twitter @coldun14.]

Editor's Note: The National Catholic Reporter is embarking on a groundbreaking project to give greater voice to sisters around the world. To learn more about this project or sign up for email alerts visit, http://ncronline.org/sisters.

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