Topic: Guest Articles

Update from Friends in Solidarity With South Sudan – June 2018

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

Friends in Solidarity, the US partner to Solidarity with South Sudan, is established to support the work of religious men and women working in South Sudan training teachers, nurses, midwives, farmers and diocesan pastoral teams.

A commitment was made by UISG/USG in 2006, on behalf of religious congregations throughout the world, to the assist the Church in Sudan to build the capacity of the people to assume responsibility for their own lives and development.  Since that time, South Sudan has become an independent nation (2011) and is now engaged in negotiations to end ethnic fighting.

Solidarity with South Sudan, since 2009, has built a new teacher training college, rehabilitated the Catholic Health Training Institute, established a sustainable agricultural training program, is caring for 7000 displaced in Riimenze and working with diocesan teams in catechetical and pastoral training including trauma healing and peace building workshops. God has protected these initiatives and those engaged in training South Sudanese attending these programs.

The success of this work is due to the commitment of religious congregations of men and women from across the globe. We are nearing ten years in our commitment to the Church of Sudan. It is easy to forget that this commitment was made on our behalf. Daily we are faced with great needs.  And yet, we have this commitment and need to honor it. Currently US support for the work of Solidarity represents about 10% of what is needed to support the work being done in South Sudan. We can do more, but we need to raise awareness of both the need and the commitment of UISG/USG to this effort.

Recently I was reminded that, in the beginning of this initiative, congregations pledged to support the work of Solidarity. One major superior suggested that we offer this opportunity again and urge congregations to “take the pledge.” Pledge forms are now available and can be downloaded from the Friends in Solidarity website. Thanks for your ongoing support of this important work in the poorest country in our world. See you at CMSM Assembly!

For further information contact

Update on South Sudan: A Hopeless Situation?

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The following information comes to us by way of Sr. Joan Mumaw of Friends in Solidarity, the U.S. partner to solidarity with South Sudan. Their offices are part of the shared building with CMSM.

This is what many are saying about South Sudan. Reading newspaper accounts of the ongoing violence, which began as a power struggle between political leaders and rekindled unresolved ethnic hostilities, one would think there is no hope for peace in this new country.

There are, however many peace-making initiatives taking place both inside and beyond the borders of South Sudan. The government has initiated a National Dialogue on reconciliation and peace which is now holding regional gatherings. The South Sudan Council of Churches has received funding from the US Government, through Catholic Relief Services, to develop peace building initiatives at all levels. The Intergovernmental Authority on Development, IGAD, comprised of the countries surrounding South Sudan, has taken the initiative to hold talks with the opposition leader, Riek Machar, who is being held captive in South Africa. IGAD is also hosting meetings in Ethiopia with the hope of bringing opposing sides together and honoring the August 2015 Agreement.

With the splintering of the SPLA, the national army, and emergence of local militias, there are no longer just two “sides.” Any peace initiative needs to deal with all the factions and include not only government leaders, but also civil society, women and the youth.

The greatest potential for peace making is the country’s rich heritage of community-led peace processes. The churches are well positioned to assist local communities coming together to resolve local conflicts and reflect on the larger conflict besetting the nation. Bishop Emeritus, Paride Taban, from Torit Diocese, has established the Kuron Peace Village and called on leaders from the area to gather in the village to engage in processes leading to reconciliation and forgiveness.

Solidarity with South Sudan, working with the National Pastoral Director, is introducing the concept of active non-violence to groups of women, young adults, diocesan pastoral leaders and clergy – building awareness and skills over a three year period. In turn, these groups will plan together for similar workshops at the local level. Sr Annette St. Amour, IHM, a member of the training team, writes, “A quality of the South Sudanese people is resilience. Month after month, year after year they have been living in the midst of conflict, insecurity, poverty, hunger and now hyperinflation with the rising cost of food and basic necessities. They express being ‘sick and tired’ of war and conflict.” They are open to any initiatives which will end the conflict and are eager to learn skills to avoid conflict in the future.

We invite religious communities to join with the South Sudanese people in praying for peace with this Prayer for South Sudan. You can also access the Advent Brochures at Advent Journey. To make a tax deductible donation in support of Solidarity peace-building initiatives click here.

The Face of God Turns Toward the World

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The following information comes to us by way of Sr. Joan Mumaw of Friends in Solidarity, the U.S. partner to solidarity with South Sudan. Their offices are part of the shared building with CMSM.

The readings of this post-Easter season are rich in images. The disciples struggle to understand the mystery of Jesus’ death and resurrection. We too seek understanding in a world fraught with pain and suffering. Solidarity remains standing with the people of South Sudan; Solidarity is the face of God to the people, in an ever widening conflict.

When the UISG and USG took on the challenge of ministry in South Sudan and established Solidarity with South Sudan, they committed religious to build the capacity of the church, including two indigenous religious congregations, the St. Martin de Porres Brothers and the Sacred Heart Sisters. Solidarity with South Sudan has taken this seriously and has educated some local religious as nurses and teachers. One sister has been trained as an accountant and works in the Solidarity office in Juba.

The Brothers of St. Marin de Porres is a lay religious Congregation of Diocesan rite dedicated to apostolic work. The Brothers were founded by the late Bishop Sisto Mazzoldi, MCCJ, to participate in the pastoral mission of the Church in Africa. There are 65 active members serving in Sudan, South Sudan and Uganda.

The Brothers have undergone many difficulties, especially displacement from their own land as a result of civil wars experienced in Sudan, South Sudan and Uganda. The civil wars (60+ years) have had negative effects on both the spiritual and material life of the Brothers, yet the Brothers managed to be faithful to their original charism working for the transformation of society through education. They administer a large school in Juba, a center in Juba for lepers in honor of St. Martin de Porres and are in the process of establishing a primary and secondary boarding school a short distance from Juba. They are the face of God for the people among whom they live and work.

The Brothers are seeking assistance from other congregations to support the furnishing of the primary and boarding schools which have already been built. Currently students are sitting on the floor. $30,000 is required to furnish desks, benches and beds for 150 students in each of the primary and secondary schools. $10,000 has already been secured.

If you are interested in supporting the Brothers and desire more information or a proposal, please contact Sr. Joan Mumaw by email. Online tax deductible donations can now also be made at Checks made to “Friends in Solidarity” may be sent to our office at 8808 Cameron St. Silver Spring, MD 20910. Friends in Solidarity is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization registered in the Official Catholic Directory under the Archdiocese of Washington, DC (2017 ed.) You can also follow us on Facebook.

An Unexpected Challenge and Urgent Request: Update from South Sudan

Sudan - Feeding the Hungry

The following information comes to us by way of Sr. Joan Mumaw of Friends in Solidarity, the U.S. partner to solidarity with South Sudan. Their offices are part of the shared building with CMSM.

On New Year’s Day, the village of Riimenze in Western Equatoria was the scene of intense fighting between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (national army) and rebels, made up primarily of local men and boys “recruited” to defend their area. During the fighting, homes were looted and burned, sometimes with people in them. Over 5000 people from the village fled their homes and are sheltering at the parish in Riimenze, the site of the Solidarity Agricultural Training Project.

Sisters Rosa and Josephine and Brother Christian, members of Solidarity with South Sudan, are assisting these internally displaced people (IDP), helping them to access water, food, shelter and medicines. Fortunately, there was an abundant crop of sweet potatoes harvested from the agricultural project at the end of the year. Solidarity staff from the Teacher Training College bought all the tarps available in the Yambio area, an insufficient number for the 1700 families needing shelter. Generous donors are providing resources for an additional borehole and water tanks.

The needs are greater than our resources. Solidarity with South Sudan is focused on capacity building- training nurses, midwives, teachers and pastoral teams. The urgent needs of the community built up around the agricultural project present Solidarity members with new challenges. Friends in Solidarity is seeking funds to assist the Riimenze team with this great need. JOIN US in supporting Solidarity. Secure tax deductible donations can be made via or Facebook. Checks made out to Friends in Solidarity can be sent to the address below.

Facing Famine

The United Nations recently warned of famine in South Sudan. 100,000 people in Unity State are facing famine and over a million are food insecure. Others indicate that 40% of the population will soon be in a similar situation. The tragedy is that this is man-made. Leaders in the country have failed to comply with peace agreements and are unable to control their own military groups who continue to ravage the country, looting and burning and raping the women and young girls. Humanitarian agencies are unable to deliver life-saving food and medicines because of the lack of security. Solidarity with South Sudan is partnering with Catholic Relief Services to deliver humanitarian assistance in Wau, Riimenze and Juba. Where possible, assistance is given to support people who want to return to their homes and rebuild. The Riimenze crisis provides us with the opportunity to assist people to return to their plots of land and rebuild their homes when peace is restored. This is possible because of the work Solidarity has done to build a community around sustainable agricultural practices. Join us, Friends in Solidarity, as we assist Solidarity with South Sudan in this rebuilding effort.

Joan Mumaw
8808 Cameron St
Silver Spring, MD 20910

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 Contributions are tax deductible as Friends in Solidarity is a 501(c) 3 tax exempt organization now listed in the Kennedy Directory.