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Saturday, January 1, 2011

South Sudan: A Happy New Year for Africa’s Undecided Nation?

It’s nearly New Year’s eve, and Southern Sudanese people are celebrating while they consider what the future of their nation should be. Meanwhile, the UN is stockpiling food in case the January referendum to decide whether the Christian/animist south will separate from the largely Islam north results in violence.

It’s a tense time for Africa’s largest country. While the referendum puts into motion a shift that will either bring stability, change, violence, or progression for the nation as a whole, at the village level, South Sudanese people are struggling to establish peaceful lives.

While HOPE International Development Agency’s Sudanese colleagues have many success stories to share and their skill in bringing permanent positive changes to communities is growing they are also adept at responding to crisis - unfortunately due to much hard experience. It is not uncommon for them to need to move quickly in order to supply food, shelter, and care to people who have had to leave their villages due to attacks from unsympathetic tribes.

Decades of civil war leaves a legacy of mistrust and violence. Poverty can make neighbours turn on each other if they feel it will aid in their survival. The reality of life on the ground in South Sudan is one of great difficulty and uncertainty.

It is also one in which extraordinary people are trying to make a good life. While we can’t guarantee nation-wide stability or just political outcomes, we can invest in capable and worthy people. They will be the ones to lead their neighbours, slowly and with some difficulty, into a South Sudan that might someday mark their holidays with a little less anxiety.

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