James Lubo Mijak, December 28, 2017
Greetings from South Sudan. I am saying “Hello” and also “Thank You, very much.”
It has been a very busy year, and we are ready for the holidays. I am wishing you God’s blessings for your holiday, too. The schools have just finished their classes, and the students in P8, the final year of primary school, have just finished national exams. We are waiting for the results. Schools will open next year in February.
In this letter, I want to focus on the Nyarweng and Gumriak primary schools in Ruweng State because they were the start of what is now the Raising South Sudan project. These schools represent a dream I had when I was a former Lost Boy of Sudan living in Charlotte, North Carolina. I wanted to start with a school in my home village of Nyarweng and my friends Leslie and Phillips Bragg offered to help me find the way. Then, along with Ngor Kur Mayol of Atlanta and Karen Puckett of Salisbury, North Carolina, we also wanted to support children from Ngor’s home village of Aliap. Later, we made a collaboration with James Manyror, he lives near Denver, and he started an orphanage and school called Gumriak. Today, our dreams are alive and still growing. More than 450 students took exams at Nyarweng this year. Almost 350 students did the same thing at Gumriak. That is amazing.
I am proud of the Nyarweng and Gumriak schools. They were the only ones in our communities that stayed open all year. Teachers were always paid, and meals were served every day. We have scholarships for girls to continue at a very good boarding school for the high school years, and we hope that we can start helping boys continue in high schools next year. These are still the only schools in the area with textbooks for students and adult literacy programs.
This does not mean that everything is perfect. South Sudan is a hard place to work. One example is that many trees in Ruweng State have been cut down for cooking wood, so there are strong winds. The roof on a building under construction at the Gumriak School was blown off. With funds from donors we built a semi-permanent building and raised the ground at the compound to avoid flooding during the rainy season. The students and teachers are very grateful. But the damage to the roof delayed us from providing more desks for students. Also, our teachers at both schools walk long distances, and we didn’t have the budget to provide bicycles to them this year. We started a demonstration farm but have a lot to do to make farms bigger and provide enough meals for the school children in the future.
Our biggest challenge is always having enough classroom space and training the best teachers. To keep the Nyarweng and Gumriak schools open in 2018 we need to pay 30 teachers and staff to work with almost 800 students.
Even with the challenges, we are all very grateful! We feel the love of many donors, churches and friends. We always say in our local language that “One hand cannot clap.” We clap when your hands and our hands join together. I hope you can please help with a donation so the children can continue their education.
Thank you very much,
James Lubo Mijak
Raising South Sudan, Country Project Director