The quality of our hope cannot be aptly evaluated in the absence of grave difficulties and much suffering; but when life’s unexpected challenges meet the resilience of spirit in mere mortals, there’s no limiting the resultant outcomes. I have some good stories.
The two most trusted professionals in any community are Doctors and school teachers. While we don’t have the luxury of resident doctors in these refugee camps, we are blessed with a few school teachers.
Meet Alfred, a husband, father and grandfather. He’s happily married to Vicky and they have seven biological children, three grandchildren and two orphans, all staying with them in the camp. Alfred holds a Masters Degree in Human Resource Management and Marketing Management, and a Bachelors Degree in Primary Education.
Until the war of July 2016 that forced him to flee to Uganda, Alfred was the County Education Director of Morobo County, in Yei River State, South Sudan for four years; where he oversaw education matters in 30 nursery schools, 74 primary schools and 4 secondary schools. By all standards, this is an accomplished civil servant with many years of experience.
Today, he’s a refugee.
Alfred lives in a hut that could pass for his chickens and goats house back in South Sudan. But he’s not broken by his challenges, which includes weak health and continues to serve the nation of South Sudan as under a refugee status, as the Head Teacher of the refugee-founded school – Hope Primary School; where he and 15 other teachers, all refugees, are making a difference in the lives of 640 primary school students. Sadly though, without a salary.
Alfred gave his life to Jesus during our Refugee Teachers’ Conference in May 2018. I salute this vessel of hope and the gallant teachers laboring with him. If you’d consider supporting their cause, please go here.
Alfred’s wife Vicky, on arriving the refugee camp two years ago, promptly setup a small kiosk, right in front of their hut, selling everyday consumables from which the family is being sustained. She also knits colorful designs on bed sheets, cushion and pillow cases, dinner tables and leaving room furniture, all for sale.
She has raised a group of women to do same and employed four others, all refugees to assist her. They are looking for a market outside the refugee camps for their handiwork. If you are interested in marketing their products, and also telling their individual stories, please contact me.
In July 2017, seven women from WOLCC, USA visited with us, to serve South Sudanese refugees. They brought psycho-social support to the camps, helping traumatized women and children process their challenges with hope. We organized a Conference and had 106 women leaders in and around eight refugee camps in attendance.
From this gathering, 23 different small groups emerged with 9 different business initiatives. From baking, hair-dressing, colorful bag making with beads, tailoring and others. Most of these women were bearing the burdens of their individual families alone and were determined to make a difference, despite their obvious challenges.
Women and Children in the refugee camps in Uganda constitute 80% of the total refugee population. Empowering women in these camps can guarantee community transformation and ultimately, Kingdom advancement, if properly midwifed.
Imagine what can be accomplished if some of these South Sudanese refugee women are rightly motivated to discover and engage their God-given gifts and purposes in the camps now. Do you sense a calling here? Please connect.
Meet Deaconess Poni. She fled the war in South Sudan with her four children and took on two other unaccompanied minors when their parents couldn’t be located amidst the chaos on the long trek to safety.
Poni was one of the 106 refugee church women leaders who came to our South Sudanese Refugee Women’s Conference in July 2017. Heeding our counsel to the women at the gathering to form small business interest groups, she obeyed, and led a group of four women in the camp to start a tailoring business.
She received a sewing machine at that Conference on behalf of her group and went to work immediately. I visited them in November 2017 to assess their work and I was impressed. They were making choir uniforms for churches in the camp then.
Today, they’ve expanded their small business and profited as a result from making school uniforms and assortment of dresses for fellow refugees.
Deaconess Poni was living in this small hut above with her six children until recently.
From this business within a year, she’s building herself a two bedroom house with bricks, right in the refugee camp. Poni has changed her story and brought hope to her immediate family through perseverance. Others are copying her.
We’ve bought Poni and her group another sewing machine, assured that their success will inspire hope in others as we work together to change the fortunes of some.
There are more like her in these desperate places, whose reason for hope seem irrational. But hope, real hope, birth in the furnace of much affliction, is unbreakable and makes a great anchor for the soul. Let’s stand with them.
Whenever the mystery of evil is finally unraveled by God in regions of great pain and darkness, He draws attention to Himself, offering humans a chance to embrace real peace in perilous times. What’s your story of hope this season?
In Part 4, you’ll meet Justin and Isaac. The story of their kingdom journeys will inspire you or someone near you.