The ‘Other’ Syria

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by Sr. Joan Mumaw, IHM, President and Chief Administrative Officer
Friends in Solidarity

Our thoughts and prayers are reaching out to the people of Syria and especially those in Aleppo and Mosul as they try to survive in the midst of civil war and the massive destruction of their cities. Daily we have updates and photos of the suffering of the women and children.

What we read little about is the situation in South Sudan where a power struggle between the Vice-President and President of that country has rapidly become a civil war engulfing the entire country in ethnic conflict. Tens of thousands have been killed, women assaulted and raped, children kidnapped and sent to fight with the military and opposition militias, and homes and businesses burnt to the ground. Two million people have been displaced or have fled the country seeking safety and humanitarian assistance. Four million out of a population of twelve million are facing severe food insecurity and famine. And all because of leaders who are fighting between themselves, and for which the nation is the “grand prize.”

Solidarity with South Sudan is reaching out to those most in need. On New Year’s Day the people of Riimenze, the site of the Solidarity Agricultural Training Project, was attacked by the army and homes burned to the ground, sometimes with people in them. 4250 local people have now taken up “residence” in the parish. They are supported by Solidarity and the generosity of congregations from around the world. The needs are great – water, food, shelter, medicine.

This is just one area where Solidarity members are present in South Sudan. 28 religious priests, brothers and sisters from 14 congregations and 17 countries, continue to train teachers, registered nurses and midwives, farmers and diocesan pastoral teams in the midst of insecurity and civil unrest. 26 teachers just graduated from the Solidarity Teacher Training College, an hour away from Riimenze. The college is the only one to graduate teachers in 2016.

We invite you to consider supporting members of the Solidarity team. If you do not have personnel, consider supporting one. $6500 per year per staff person will ensure their support. For more information on how you can support this initiative contact: Joan Mumaw, IHM, President of Friends in Solidarity, representing Solidarity with South Sudan in the U.S.  and follow us on Facebook and on the web at www.solidarityfriends.org. Contributions are tax deductible as Friends in Solidarity is a 501(c) 3 tax exempt organization now listed in the Kennedy Directory.