Tuesday, July 31, 2012

URGENT NEED! Water for Students in Uganda

Imagine being a senior in high school and being told you will not be able to complete the year or attend university this year because there is no clean drinking water at your school. 

The team leaders from the World Harvest Mission team in Bundibugyo Uganda shared this urgent need.  I have included their own blog post at the bottom, but here is my summary.

To keep the doors open at Christ School Bundibugyo, the team needs to raise $12,000 in emergency gifts by August 7th to be able to install a rainwater system.  

Why the urgent need? A construction crew that is building in the highly anticipated  East African Highway has reached a town very near to the school.  They will dig up the water pipes currently serving the school in the process but the WILL NOT be replacing the pipes until AFTER the construction of the highway is complete. 

Lack of safe drinking water has already caused a cholera outbreak in a nearby town, so if there is no source of clean water, Christ School, which is a boarding school for about 350 students, will have no choice but to close for five weeks or more until water can be restored.  

I ask you to pray about whether you might partner with Christ School Bundibugyo in this crisis to provide safe drinking water for the students.  Any amount helps.   

Since many of you may be familiar with the water situation in S. Sudan, I just want to mention that a rainwater system in Bundibugyo would provide plenty of water since it is rainy season in the middle of a rainforest.  Also any extra money raised will go to other needs at the school. 


Monday, July 30, 2012

Can this man save this girl?

One of the things that comes with moving is sorting through old papers.  In the process I came across an article a friend mailed to me a while back about Matt Damon's work in the area of water in developing nations. I saved it not because of the content, but because of the images.   The article itself was interesting, but the tag line and images kind of bothered me.

CAN THIS MAN (close up of Matt Damon, an Academy Award winning actor who was also once named the sexiest man alive) SAVE THIS GIRL? (image of an unnamed girl gathering dirty water in Mali)

Raising awareness and support for projects and organizations is a part of working in international development.  Images, catchy songs, and tag lines are generally a part of that, especially when you are targeting a generation that grew up in a world FLOODED with media.  I don't doubt that I myself have made poor decisions when it comes to raising support and awareness for the ministries I was a part of in S. Sudan.  I hope though, that both the development workers and the individuals who support them financially would thoughtfully move towards methods that don't play into the typical stereotypes.  Even more than that, I pray that the images and stories coming out of ministries, especially in Africa, would flow out of a worldview that sees all people as made in the image of God, recognizes that all people are in desperate need of Jesus (including Matt Damon), and looks forward to a day when no one will thirst or die of water-born diseases.   Now how to do that in ten words or less for a generation with a short attention span?

Can Matt Damon save a girl in Mali who doesn't have access to clean drinking water? No. Only Jesus can do that. Can Matt Damon as a part of a larger organization partner with communities to provide access to clean drinking water? Yes! But that just isn't as catchy of a title for an article. 

So this is just a reminder for myself especially to pray and think carefully about the words, stories, and images I share.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

One Year Later

Monday, July 9th marks the one year anniversary of the independence of South Sudan.   It was such a blessing to be able to be in Mundri last year to celebrate independence with friends.  Here are few pictures I snapped last year.

 There was much singing, dancing, and rejoicing!

The students and head master of Mundri Secondary School proudly marched with their banner welcoming the new born country.

People proudly wore the colors and flag of South Sudan including this "Vote for Separation" tie.  The symbols in the center of the tie show how the people of South Sudan voted in January 2011 by placing their finger print next to the symbol of an open hand for separation or next to a closed fist for unity.  

There were high hopes for S. Sudan's first year as a nation.  The fact is that one year after independence, the border between the two nations has yet to be determined.  There is no oil sharing agreement, and S. Sudan halted oil production months ago depriving both nations of a large percentage of their revenue.  Conditions at the refugee camps are horrific as well over 100,000 people have fled violence in the border regions.  Check out the article below if you are interested in reading more about what the news is reporting regarding the current state of S. Sudan. 

Facts and figures of a tumultuous first year of independence - UN Dispatch 

Despite these reports, I continue to hear stories of hope and joyful moments with friends from my former teammates in Mundri.  Water is flowing at a new borehole.  The women of Okari church are learning English.  I am sure the anniversary of independence will be celebrated with prayers of thanksgiving and much rejoicing even though times are hard for many.  

As the first anniversary of S. Sudan's independence approaches, join me in praying for this very young nation.  Here are two specific ways you can pray. 
  • Pray that a fair and just border would be determined peacefully and quickly as well as an oil sharing agreement.   
  • Pray for the refugees and returnees in the border regions as well as the aid agencies that are providing relief and running the camps.  

Keep your eyes open on the Mundri team blogs over the next week for their thoughts on the one year anniversary of independence from South Sudan.  

WEPC Heads Back to Mundri and Other Happenings

WEPC 2009 Team (plus me!)

 WEPC 2010 Team with the whole WHM Team

A team from my home church in Richmond is heading to Mundri this month! The two teams that came from WEPC to Mundri while I was on the field were a HUGE blessing to me personally as well as to the whole WHM team.  Join me in praying for this year's team!  I wish I could be in Mundri with them so badly.  Jenn and John have also raised enough support buy their tickets to Mundri, so Jenn will be traveling with the first wave of the WEPC team, and John will be arriving a few days later.  Praise God for his provision!

I'm in the process of getting ready to move to Philly.  Details are still coming together, but I'm excited.  I'm hoping to arrive in the first few days of August.  Classes for the MA in International Development program at Eastern University will start in late August.  I'm excited to be back in an academic setting and even more excited to be moving much closer to several dear friends from my time at Penn State.  =)