Back in a country dominated by English one might think that learning a local language is all that necessary. My church is in English. My shopping is all done in English. Business and commerce take place in English. School children learn English beginning in nursery school. They are taught in English all the way through university. Much of the news and TV shows are all in English. So then, what’s the point?
Relationships are made in Kiswahili.
Sure, I have Kenyan friends. Quite a few. Some really close. But when gathering after church, it’s not English I hear. When we are in large groups or small Bible studies, it’s not English I hear. In the marketplace most of the chatter isn’t in English. On the playgrounds the words aren’t in MY mother tongue.
So it’s back to school for me (and Little Bear).
Hard at work, coloring away!
Coloring pictures is cathartic, well…until your hand cramps up and the pencil indents itself into your finger. We’re having flashbacks to our carefree days in elementary school; coloring, cutting, and laminating, except now we possess the expertly honed abilities to color within the lines, cut in straight rows, and operate a high-powered electrical machine.
Seriously though, this is prep work for our language studies. Each of the pictures that we color, cut, and laminate are going to aid our language helper in teaching us Arabic. We’re using the Graduated Participator Approach (GPA).
People group picture cards
For the first 30-40 hours (or 1-2 weeks) we participate simply by listening and responding non-verbally as our helper points to different picture cards while pronouncing the name in Arabic. During this time we expect to add between 300-400 new words to our vocabulary!
The next 50-60 hours we will learn an additional 450+ words while participating in limited two-way conversation as best we can. As we progress to Phase 2 of GPA we begin story telling using simple, wordless children’s books. The end result, of course, is to speak fluently!
For now this is our full-time job; starting out just like babies, learning a new language, making countless mistakes, practicing in the marketplace, making new friends, and feeling like fools much of the time as we stumble over unfamiliar words and sounds!
Education opens doors, widens a person’s world view, gives the opportunity for a better life, and most importantly unlocks Scripture. Education is also one of the largest needs in South Sudan. The literacy rate in South Sudan is 27% and women’s literacy is only 16% (CIA Factbook). Only one in four South Sudanese over the age of 15 can read and write and only one in six women can read and write. While there are a few primary schools in the area, there isn’t a high school in Mabaan County. Nevertheless the need is huge, especially with the recent influx of refugees.
Singing lessons from an SIM missionary.
Last year, SIM closed the only high school in the Yabus area (now part of Sudan) because of insecurity. This school is reopening in Doro. Many former Yabus students are among the incoming refugees. These students easily obtained jobs for Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) in the area, reinforcing the value of education. They have seen firsthand the opportunities that education can afford.
Students help rebuild their school.
An SIM couple from India serves as project manager for the school. Their team includes a builder and head teacher from Kenya as well as teachers from Australia and India. Recently authorities finalized the necessary paperwork registering the school with the South Sudanese government. The first stage of construction should be finished in the next couple months. The students are excited to continue their studies when the school reopens in February 2013. SIM is excited to play a part in training and educating future leaders of this country.
Ready to travel
The Community Health Project brings medical relief to outlying villages where health facilities are not readily available. Missionaries run health clinics teaching about disease prevention and proper hygiene, focusing primarily on preventative care for children under 5 years old. Malnutrition, malaria, dehydration from diarrhea and pneumonia are all major causes of death in young children and are all preventable diseases.
The volunteers travel by bicycle, or by foot and sometimes by boat to remote areas bringing medical help and spiritual hope.
A rural village clinic
Work among villagers with leprosy started 2 years ago. Leprosy is curable but the disabilities can only be reversed if treatment begins in time. Those already suffering from permanent effects need to be taught how to care for themselves. Because of the stigma attached to this disease, much love and mercy are needed.
CHO workers weighing a baby
A branch focusing on Tuberculosis treatment is coming soon. Samaritan’s Purse (SP) just started a program in the area and SIM will partner with them in the work. SP will take charge of diagnosis and leave the follow-up care to SIM. This tackles a huge need in the community and especially in the refugee camps as tuberculosis is a major problem.
Other critical areas addressed by the project are:
- Clean water needs
- Sanitation education
- Nutritional screening
- Mosquito net distribution
We want to give you snapshots of life and ministry in Doro, South Sudan. By now I hope that you have read my take on some of the various aspects associated with village living. If not check these out:
Plastic Chairs and Tents
Plastic Chairs cont…
Epic Canoe Camping
SIM’s ministry in Doro focuses on healthcare, clean water, education, evangelism and discipleship. We are highlighting these programs to give you a better understanding of the ministries our team is involved in. Check out the links below.
Take a look at the video below for a brief history of SIM in Southern Sudan and first hand accounts from Sudanese who have participated in services offered.