"We are alive and there is hope, a chance for a new beginning," just like the early followers of Jesus after his death.
Juba, South Sudan
Some of South Sudan's considerable challenges and seemingly intractable problems are exemplified in the little hamlet of Gumbo, outside of Juba.
The Daughters of Mary Immaculate from India are helping the thousands of Nuer people in South Sudan who have been living in U.N. refugee camps since December. The sisters provide trauma counseling, food support and activities for children who otherwise have nothing educational to do.
Writer Chris Herlinger is currently in South Sudan reporting for NCR. Here is his first letter regarding the experiences and fears of the people he has met. As he continues his work there, look for more blog posts, stories and photos from him about the realities people are facing.
First impressions aren’t always accurate. But in my first days here I have been struck by the extent of trauma people have experienced – and real worries that the violence that has rocked South Sudan since mid-December may not be over.
Today’s letter, sent on Sunday, Feb. 23, comes from Immaculate Heart Sr. Annette St. Amour of Monroe, Mich. After 25 years of working in South Africa, she recently arrived in Juba to help Solidarity with South Sudan’s pastoral development work. They are forming diocesan teams to assist groups with programs for peace and reconciliation.
More than a year after national independence, relations between church and state in South Sudan are experiencing growing pains.
"I am happy with the government and with (President Salva Kiir). He's a Catholic and he prays in our church when he's at home," Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro of Juba told Catholic News Service. "But it doesn't seem as if the government is as willing to listen to the church as before."