Establishing the St. Francis Basic School in Juba
Using money raised by St. Francis, David Bako started a school in Juba in southern Sudan when he returned in 1999. The school was started in Juba rather than in Ezo, because Ezo was still a site of much violence and warfare, and many Ezo natives had fled to the relative safety of Juba. The "St. Francis Basic School," as it came to be called, began with 63 students taught by four volunteers. Over time, and as our church was able to provide more funds, the St. Francis Basic School grew in size and number of students. Within 10 years, the school had multiple buildings, a well for water that was a boon to the entire community, and more than 700 students.
The 2008 Mission Trip to JubaIn 2008, St. Francis sent two parishioners, Charlie Jackson and Janet Gralley, to visit the St. Francis Basic School in Juba. They were warmly welcomed and spent almost 2 weeks in Sudan, most of it at the school.
Some of their most vivid impressions were of the sheer poverty of the area, coupled with the great optimism and faith of the people, who made the most of very limited resources.
A New Country Emerges
Civil war and unrest have plagued Sudan since 1955. North Sudan, the site of the capital of Khartoum, was (and is) a Muslim country with a government that has been on the U.S. list of countries with state-sponsored terrorism since 1993. The south of Sudan had always been home to tribes who were more likely to be Christians or to practice native animist religions. The government in Khartoum had been loath to free southern Sudan because of the oil deposits there; in fact, the government had carried out genocide and warfare in the south. A peace agreement was finally reached in 2005 between Khartoum and rebels in southern Sudan. The agreement stipulated that a referendum be held on independence for southern Sudan. The vote was overwhelmingly in favor of independence, and South Sudan became an independent country in 2011, with Juba as the new capital. For a time, Juba was the site of more building than any other city in the world, as many countries rushed to establish embassies and offices in the new country.