Back from Kampala, Bishop Wayne reports on the state of Lui Diocese in South Sudan
When we were in Uganda May 17-22, Debbie Smith and I spent valuable time with Bishop Stephen Dokolo and his wife Lillian, both from the Diocese of Lui. Noel Night, Dean of Fraser Cathedral in Lui Town, was there, as was Rina, the Mothers’ Union Coordinator for the diocese. Also present were nine people from Lui’s partnership with the Diocese of Lund in the Church of Sweden, and one person representing the partnership with Blackmore Vale Deanery in the Diocese of Salisbury. We sat together in collaborative conversation for many hours over several days at our hotel in Kampala.
We heard long reports about the situation on the ground in the Diocese of Lui, where the people have suffered devastation at the hands of the army and the rebel forces. Homes, churches, schools, fields, and seed stores have been burned down, and much of the property looted. Inflation is rampant, bringing even greater hardship to the people of South Sudan. There are also army garrisons in every town along the major east-west road through the diocese. In the midst of this bad news, there is some good. The warring factions in South Sudan signed a Compromise Peace Accord on April 26, and tensions are in fact abating. It is now possible to travel safely along the major road running east to west through Lui. The government appears to be settling into a tenuous stability, although the emphasis must go on the word “tenuous.” I ask your prayers, that the peace might hold.
Bishop Stephen has asked the partners for assistance in obtaining one item of relief, and one item only. He has asked for help in procuring seed stock to replace all that the army destroyed, an action which has left the people of Lui, subsistence farmers all, at risk for starvation. If the seed can get to Juba, then Bishop Stephen and the Church can arrange for distribution throughout Lui. I have made some queries here in St. Louis, and I am hopeful that we may be able to respond.
We spent one day visiting the refugee camp in Kiryandongo, about a five-hour drive northwest of Kampala. About a thousand refugees from Lui and the surrounding Moru tribal areas have settled in the camp. The Moru Church is thriving in Kiryandongo and is the most visible and consolidating institution around. Sosthen is the pastor of Emmanuel Church, as it is called, and Ismail and George are assisting him. Some of us know Sosthen and Ismail from the time that they lived in Lui Town, and Sosthen is faithful in posting news of the Moru refugees on Facebook, where you can find him at “Sosthen Amin Lati.” The quality of life is moderately good in the camp, although the community is anxious about the possibilities of food shortages. There is also a serious health problem with jiggers, very small sand fleas that burrow into the feet, causing severe pain and the risk of infection. If you are strong of heart, you can Google for information about the affliction. The photographs are disturbing. Children and elders are most at risk, but prevention is relatively simple—closed-toe shoes and foot-washing with soap. Here again the international partners might provide aid.
The truth is that the people of Lui need us and the other partners now more than ever. Both the Moru people still living in their South Sudanese homeland and the Moru people in the diaspora are in need. I am very glad to know them as friends and partners--and as dear brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.
- Photos from the trip
- Videos of worship service at Kiryandongo
Refugee Camp (1, 2, 3)
- Published in Seek, voices of the Diocese of Missouri
PHOTO: With some of the Diocese of Lui diaspora at the Kiryandongo Refugee Camp in Uganda. On left in the blue shirt is Sosthen, preacher at Emmanuel Church in the camp. Bishop Stephen Dokolo is on the far right next to a member of the mission partners group, Anne Powell, from the Diocese of Salisbury, U.K.. Larger copies of this and other images online at diocesemo.org/June2016Seek. Credit: Debbie Smith.