St. Francis’s work with South Sudan is our church’s oldest continuing international ministry. It breaks down into two parts. One part is our continuing work with the St. Francis Basic School in Juba. This has been a long-term commitment beginning with the establishment of a school in Juba in South Sudan to serve the needs of Sudanese internal refugees from Ezo who were displaced due to armed civil conflict. The School continues and serves local Juba families no matter their previous connections because as South Sudan has settled into other ways of solving their internal disagreements, Ezo expatriates have moved home. The school is still needed, and we continue to add to this mission that we helped to begin.
The Winter Gala of 2020 was devoted to raising money for our other South Sudanese ministry, mission work with the Diocese of Ezo. Our intention for the money raised during that Gala was to use the proceeds to dig a new well on the property of the Diocese to replace a well that ended up in disrepair, due in large part to the inability to maintain the well because of South Sudanese violent internal struggles after the country’s independence from Sudan. As you will see below from a report by Leslie Siegmund, St. Francis is still actively involved in our mission to the Diocese of Ezo and its work. We have friends in Bishop John and his wife, Mama Nancy, we are working to get the well project going, and it is still important to help Bishop Jon and his churches develop the infrastructure necessary to overcome their geographic isolation.
Update on Ezo and Bishop John:
It seems like a very long time ago that the 2020 St. Francis Gala raised money for the repair or replacement of the well in the Ezo Diocese of South Sudan. Since that time, unfortunately, not much has been able to happen. Borders were closed for many months because of Covid, and water engineers were not able to travel. Bishop John was also out of touch for a while, since he is able to be in contact only when he can travel from Ezo to Yambio. The good news is that he has been in contact more frequently of late.
Here is a short update:
- Bishop John is currently in Yambio and calls Jack Mathias when he can. He is in good spirits and reports that Covid has not had a big impact in Ezo. This is likely due to Ezo’s isolation and to a campaign financed by our friends in Salisbury that provided educational materials and soap to help prevent the spread of Covid.
- The U.N. is starting a feeding program in Ezo, but they would like to have a reliable source of clean water, so Bishop John is particularly anxious to solve their well problem so that the U.N. program can be fully implemented.
- Mama Nancy returned briefly to Ezo but was, unfortunately, in a car accident and had to go to Juba for treatment. She is mostly recovered and is now back in Yambio.
- The original water drilling company that St. Francis contacted last year is no longer available, so we have put out feelers to a couple of other water engineering companies in South Sudan and are waiting to hear back. The problem is always the isolation of Ezo and the lack of roads. Archbishop Peni has offered to help St. Francis identify a water company, and Bishop John is looking at some more local drillers. Rotary International also supports some water work in South Sudan. Communication remains difficult in all of these instances! In the meantime, St. Francis Gala funds set aside for the well remain intact.
- We remain particularly blessed to have the friendship of Dr. Andrew Tompkins in Salisbury, England, because his congregation also supports Ezo. Dr. Tompkins has been a great resource, and we continue to share information with each other as we learn more about Bishop John and Ezo.
If you have any questions about Ezo or Bishop John, feel free to direct them to our Rector or to Jack Mathias (email@example.com).