giovedì 14 febbraio 2008

Capuchins will help financing a Teacher Training Center

The Capuchin Order granted 350.000 USD for a Teacher Training Center in Southern Sudan. The money comes from the Mission Office of Quebec, Canada. The project started at the level of the Union of Superiors General (USG) and the Union of International Superiors General (UISG). In January 2005, the bishops of Sudan Catholic Bishops Regional Conference invited them to send a delegation of religious to Southern Sudan to see the needs of society and the church after 21 years of civil war. The result of this visit was the so called Solidarity with Southern Sudan Project. During the year 2008, Solidarity with Southern Sudan will send 21 sisters, brothers, and priests into Southern Sudan to begin working as teacher trainers, health care instructors, and pastoral agents.

Sudan is the largest and one of the least known countries on the African continent. It occupies an area of 2,505,810 Km2 with an estimated population of 40 million. After 21 years of war, since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) on January 9th 2005, Southern Sudan (capital: Juba), is an autonomous region, within the vast country of Sudan. It is the size of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi combined with a population of about 11 million, located mainly in towns.

Despite this natural wealth poverty in Southern Sudan is stark, cruel, and dehumanizing. Research conducted by international agencies working in Southern Sudan point out that:

  • 80% of the inhabitants of Southern Sudan have been displaced at least once in the last 15 years,
  • Land mines are estimated to have injured or killed 70,000 people between 1983 and 1999,
  • 92% of the population lives below the poverty line.
  • illiteracy rate in Southern Sudan almost 85%
  • only 22% of children go to school
  • 2.3% of children complete primary school
  • 11% of girls have access to school
  • 1% of girls complete primary school
  • only 7% of teachers have had any kind of preparation
  • malaria, tuberculosis, leprosy, cholera, river blindness, polio, sleeping
  • sickness, AIDS (a growing concern because of returning refugees) and from
  • time to time outbreaks of Ebola are rife in Southern Sudan where only 30-40% of the people live within a day’s walk to a health facility,
  • at least one in ten children dies before they reach the age of five,
  • maternal mortality rates are as high as 865 per 100,000 live births,

The money provided by the Capuchins will help to build staff quarters for the religious working in the project. This allows to start soon and develop the project step by step. The money will also help for a first course in English language for existing teachers and a orientation program for trainers coming into Southern Sudan. The money was provided in colaboration with the Emergency Desaster Fund at the General Curia.