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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Our resolve provides certainty for families in South Sudan whose world is very uncertain right now

Communities in South Sudan face great uncertainty as a much politicized conflict rages. Lives have been lost and catastrophe, in the form of a massive famine, looms.

Almost ten years ago, when a seemingly elusive peace finally took hold, HOPE International Development Agency began providing relief support, and shortly thereafter, started helping people rebuild their lives. We knew it would be challenging and we knew our resolve to help needed to be unwavering.

Today, our resolve still stands firm as we continue to help families in communities throughout rural Ibba, located near South Sudan’s border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.

If we were to rely solely on international news to gain a picture of life in Ibba, our perception would be that everything has once again changed for the worst amidst the political conflict that has engulfed parts of South Sudan.

Yet we know, from colleagues working with families in Ibba, that life is not as dramatically affected by the bursts of conflict as we might expect or perceive based on the international news.

The biggest concern mothers and fathers are dealing with in Ibba is providing for their children in the face of a lack of potable water, repeated crop failures, unreliable rains, and occasional attacks from small, marauding militant groups that are only loosely, if at all, connected to the larger conflicts covered in the international news.

So what are we to make of all this?

For HOPE International Development Agency and our colleagues in Ibba, we continue to address the issues communities face. We know that the country is in turmoil, and we also know that these families have received little public attention. Their day-to-day struggle goes all but unnoticed as they continue to plant the few seeds they have and send their children to 'tree schools' in the hope of giving them a more promising future. Hundreds of children meet under trees and receive instruction from semi-literate community members who are doing their best to pass on and teach what they know.

Our focus continues to be helping one community at a time, enabling them to build proper schools for their children and drill water wells that provide clean water.

We know that it is not easy. The challenges faced by each community are daunting.

Yet we also know that we are helping change the lives, and futures, of children and adults, even in the face of uncertainty.

The evidence is in the notes of thanks we regularly receive from people in Ibba, who often say, “We have been praying for clean water. We thank God because we have it now. Thank you!”

So while the conflicts continue around the people of Ibba, we continue in our resolve to help families rebuild their lives, whatever may come.