Here is a brief summary of some things the Anglican Church has been doing in the last few weeks to help the most recent wave of refugees:
Funds were sent to the Holy Family Anglican Church a refugee church near the town of Dima to help them repair their church which was damaged by rain and wind. These churches in the camps serve not only as worship spaces, of course, but as multi-purpose community gathering places.
Two weeks ago we sent funds to Tiergol (once) and to Matar (twice) and most recently to Pagak for the purchase of food available locally. The local churches there have managed to buy food locally and get it to refugees awaiting ration cards. The Matar congregation also asked for some Nuer language liturgies, hymn books and Bibles. We gave them liturgies and two English Bibles, but we have no Nuer Bibles available in the country at the moment. We gave them one hymnbook and will get them more soon. We are told that the refugees in these three places have now been processed by the UNHCR and 1,000 a day are now being moved to a new camp called ‘Pinyudu 2′ – Pinyudu 1 is an old camp where almost 70,000 ‘permanent refugees’ already live. We have at least 10 churches in the Pinyudu area already – the new camp will have as many as 75,000 people, so we will need several new churches. As soon as the people are moved, our local clergy (refugees themselves) will be able to contact the newcomers, find the Anglicans and help them to establish new congregations. I know that there are at least a couple of South Sudanese clergy and some lay readers among those newcomers going to Pinyudu 2.
We have sent a shipment of used clothes to the Jewi refugee camp. This camp is near Gambella town and was established recently, populated by those who spent the last year in the Leitchour camp – a camp that was built on a flood plain which, naturally enough, flooded. Thankfully the new location is much healthier. Our Gambella town congregation went to Jewi camp last week to distribute the clothes and to worship with our newly formed congregation there (we have helped that congregation to build a simple church). We may need two more congregations in the camp given its size (if you can’t walk to church in a half hour, in the blazing sun, it’s better to have another church!). These clothes (6 large suitcases and 3 large bags) have come from a variety of sources, most of them left by recent visitors. St Matthew’s Church in Addis Ababa is collecting more clothes now which should be here in Gambella in a week or so and can be given to churches in our camps to distribute.
There are many unregistered refugees in Gambella town (the town has doubled in size since the civil war began in South Sudan). The local Nuer congregation (St Luke’s) is organizing a food distribution for refugee families attached to the congregation in some way.
We will be having a week long training session in September for our theological students, some clergy and some lay people on ‘Healing from Trauma.’ A team of two British nationals and two Ethiopians will be training our folks who can then help others who are traumatized by the events of this civil war. Related to this a team from SOMA – USA will come in October to teach people how to pray for inner healing with those going through grief.
+Grant LeMarquand, the Horn of Africa