Companion Diocese Committee's annual 2017 report
The situation in the Diocese of Lui is dire. Fighting has spread through all of Equatoria (Lui is in Western Equatoria) and many people have fled the villages for the bush as attacks from the air are happening. One occurred in the village of Lanyi where a military garrison was bombed. A convoy from Lui trying to reach Lanyi was also destroyed by air attacks. Everything seems to be fracturing along tribal lines, even the church. Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul Yak is due to retire at the end of this year.
The Diocese of Lui has split into two dioceses. The reason for the split is the desire to form internal provinces in the Episcopal Church of South Sudan. In order to have an internal province, there must be five dioceses. Each internal province would then elect an archbishop (metropolitan). The Diocese of Wandi was formed to work toward having five dioceses. The bishop of Wandi was installed shortly thereafter. We are not certain which villages or archdeaconries have split from Lui diocese so we continue to pray for all of them as we have been doing.
Prices have skyrocketed since independence: a liter of water that cost 1 Sudanese pound at independence now costs 600 pounds; one kilo of meat which cost 10 Sudanese pounds then, now costs 600 Sudanese pounds. Fish is equally scarce and expensive. Farming is dangerous because of the fighting that continues but we did manage to send $10,000 from the Diocese of Missouri for seeds. They have been purchased and are in Juba awaiting the assist of a convoy to protect the shipment on its journey to Lui. These convoys run very infrequently but should get the long-awaited seeds to the people in Lui in time to plant in April 2018.
There are still students at Lunjini Primary School but they are in desperate need of school supplies. Our mission partners in Lund, Sweden are paying salaries for teachers. We have had news that the Rev. Margaret is still headmistress of the Senior Secondary School and living in Lui.
There are no possibilities of mission trips to South Sudan as the situation is too dangerous. Anything we might think of shipping into South Sudan might get into Juba but then not get to Lui, some ninety miles away. It is frustrating.
The second project of the CDC was to send shoes, soap, Vaseline, triple antibiotic cream, hydrocortisone ointment, and examination gloves to the Lui refugees in the Kiryandongo Refugee Camp in Uganda. Neither the soap nor the gloves met Ugandan standards. We gave the soap to food pantries and other places in the Diocese of Missouri for clients who could not purchase it. The gloves were destroyed by the Ugandan government. The shoes, Vaseline, and the two medications were delivered to Kiryandongo on 9/11/17 after a year and a half of work, sweat, and tears. We can only assume that the medications were not located by the Bureau of Standards as they got through without question! The Emmanuel Church (Moru) in the refugee camp was able to not only supply their people with supplies and shoes but also shared with eleven other churches of different denominations. The Mothers were given the Vaseline with instructions for use. The medical personnel have the medications for use on skin wounds. The current problem is skin infections from the lack of soap. They have treated the ground around the Moru church for jigger fleas so there are many fewer problems with jiggers than before, but they continue to plague others in the Kiryandongo camp.
The CDC thanks the many people who have worked on these projects this past year. We would like to thank the vestry and congregation of Historic All Saints Church for giving us space and help to store, sort, and pack the shipment as well as Kim White (Advent) and Charlie Walch (Emmanuel) who coordinated the shipping logistics.
The Companion Diocese Committee remains committed to the people of Lui Diocese but, as we look to the future of hands-on, face-to-face mission, we recognize that visiting as we have in the past is not possible in the foreseeable future. As such, we are beginning to look at additional companion dioceses where we might visit more easily, less expensively and more safely. Rest assured, we will not abandon our friends in South Sudan in their hours of most need. We will continue to pray, work toward the relief of suffering, and bring their stories to a world that seems to ignore them all too easily.
Submitted by Deborah Goldfeder, Chair
Members of the CDC: