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The Jump Forward

A Letter from Lynn and Sharon Kandel, regional liaisons for the Horn of Africa, based in South Sudan

March 2020

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Write to Sharon Kandel

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Step by step, things are changing. Sometimes those steps are very small and then, all of a sudden, there is a huge step, almost more of a jump, forward.

I would like to tell you the story about a school and the community around it. The area is called Kasire and it is on the outskirts of Juba. To get to Kasire, it takes about 30 minutes over a paved road, then a dirt road and then a footpath, but when you get there you feel you have left Juba and the city behind. Kasire has more of a village feel to it, a feeling of space and freedom. Freedom from the sounds of the city, of traffic and cement and pavement. Can you tell I like going there?

The Kasire area did not have a church, and Pastor Awadia went there to meet with the Christians and so began having church services under the big tree in the community. Once she had been preaching there for a while, she saw the need for Sunday school for the children, and that also took place under the tree. As time went by, Pastor Awadia saw the need for the children to be in school but the schools were too far away for many of the children to walk to so, yes, you got it, they started a school under this same tree.

Rev. Stephen, the Education Department Director, and mission co-worker Leisa Wagstaff went to Kasire to assess the community needs for a school and to talk with the community and the parents to gauge their interest in having a school. By this time the community had put up a locally constructed building for a school and had volunteers teaching at it.

Part of the process of getting a school established in a community is to first meet with the community and explain to them that this will be their school, and that they have a part in how successful the school is. There is also training for the parents of the children. Typically, parents here do not have much say in the running of the schools, nor do they have a say if they feel something is not right. Rev. Stephen and Leisa hold workshops to educate the parents on how their involvement in the school can make it a better school and will help the children to see that education is important.

At Kasire all this groundwork was done, including getting training for the teachers who may never have had any training in teaching, but were willing to do what they could so that the children did not miss out completely on their education.

Once all that was done, the Education Department felt this community was serious about having a school and that they were committed to making it a good school. The local congregation had enough land beside their church to build a two-room, one-office building, and so through the South Sudan Education and Peace Building Project (SSEPP) they were able to build a permanent building!

Often, when a school is built there are not enough funds to do anything further, but this time there were enough funds to do so much more. There is a rainwater tank to collect the rain off the schoolhouse roof. There is a washbasin for washing hands and filling buckets and a two-room pit latrine! We are thankful for your generosity that has made these extras possible.

So, in three years this community has gone from no school at all to a permanent building with two classrooms, water storage, wash area and pit latrines! Small steps at first—under the tree to a temporary building and now a jump to a permanent building and extras.

A good reminder to me that when I feel nothing is happening and I wonder if God is listening, that God is working in ways I cannot see and that when the time is right—HIS time —things will happen in a way that can amaze me.

Thank you for your prayers of support—even when you have not heard from us. Those prayers are what keep us going. Please know that if you have not heard from us, we have not forgotten you and are praying for you. Sometimes life gets hard and it is difficult to write letters about our work and lives. I know we need to do better. Please know that we feel your prayerful support and that we are thankful for the financial support that allows us to do what we feel called to do.

Lynn and Sharon

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