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A first step on a journey toward a better future
The struggle to build a peaceful and healthy country
South Sudanese communities continue to work towards building real and sustainable peace, even against incredible odds. With them, HOPE International Development Agency remains committed to a vision of a peaceful and healthy South Sudan.
The world’s newest country is at a crossroads. Just over 50% of the population lives in poverty. Almost three quarters of the population is under the age of 31 and only 27% of the population over the age of 15 is literate. Without significant investments into these young people, the future of South Sudan is uncertain.
Investing into the futures of children in Ibba, South Sudan, where HOPE International Development Agency has worked since 2009, is vital. Our experience in Ibba is that an integrated package of activities can provide families with a strong foundation to take future steps out of poverty.
First, water is the bedrock for health and development. Without it, women and children will spend their days fetching water from faraway rivers, only to get sick when they drink and cook with it. In Ibba, a drilled well can provide clean water for over 100 families, right in their village. Providing families with access to knowledge about simple, inexpensive ways they can stay healthier is also key.
Second, education is vital so that children and their parents have the knowledge they need to become self-sufficient. Equipping communities with safe spaces for children to learn and capable teachers who can ignite a passion for learning will mean that the next generation of South Sudanese leaders will be equipped to carry their communities and their country forward.
In 2016, HOPE International Development Agency worked with six communities in Ibba. In four communities where HOPE International Development Agency has helped establish four 4-room primary schools and boreholes in the past several years, additional investments into teachers are being made, ensuring that children continue to learn in the best possible environment. Through their attendance at these schools, 953 boys and 816 girls are now able to read and write. Those in the upper grades can now communicate in English. These are very important skills for reducing illiteracy among girls and women in South Sudan.
The communities place a high value on having schools available in their communities. The primary schools functioned very well last year and the investment in education was very beneficial: for the first time, 20 students from St Mary’s Primary school (one of the four schools supported) sat for their final examinations. All of the students passed, and the top 10 performers in the region came from this school. This is the first time that any students have successfully completed their primary education from this particular school. It was a proud day of celebration for these students, their families, and the community to have this success in education. In the other schools, there were no reported drop outs, and enrolment is increasing.
Families worked hard at providing their own contributions to the sustainability of the schools’ operations. This year, the parents, teachers, and students decided to start a school garden of corn and groundnuts at each school. This was an opportunity for students to learn agricultural techniques, and also for the students to have a source of food and some additional money from sale of the products to support operating costs. The students were enthusiastic and hopeful that this initiative will have a positive and lasting impact on the schools’ viability. Despite a lack of rain in the last year, the harvest from these crops was better than expected, which was an encouragement to everyone.
Our Continued Commitment
This year, families are being educated and trained in improving basic health and sanitation practices so they can sustain the health benefits of the nearby source of clean water as a first step on their journey to a healthy future.
HOPE International Development Agency is continuing to support children at 4 schools in the current school year. We are also providing health and hygiene training (for example, clean water, hand washing, using latrines, using mosquito nets) which is important to help families maintain their health through disease prevention practices.
A new area of focus this year will be on helping youth with vocational training and entrepreneurship, providing them with opportunities to earn a better living for themselves and families. There will also be a focus on building and enhancing peace within the communities.