|Bishop Adwok greets families in the Doro refugee camp in Maban, South Sudan. (Jesuit Refugee Service)|
|"I also ask (JRS) to be strong advocates of the needs of the refugees. I have been with them; I have heard their plea, and it cannot remain unattended." ~ Bishop Daniel Adwok|
(Maban, South Sudan) December 15, 2014 — In a visit to the conflict-affected region of South Sudan, Bishop Daniel Adwok underlined the importance of education and hospitality for refugees living in the border district of Maban.
In his first visit in more than four years, the auxiliary bishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Khartoum-Sudan spent an intensive few days meeting public officials, parish representatives and refugees. Both refugees and host community members welcomed him wholeheartedly.
"Today you are here in this land, in exile, but the people of Maban [Upper Nile] can remember that not too long ago they were the ones who had to flee to the north or to Ethiopia seeking for a safer place. Thus true hospitality is very important," said Bishop Adwok to a group of refugees and parish representatives.
Prior to its separation from Sudan, people from Maban were being hosted across the border. These roles have been reversed, as Maban now hosts more than 130,000 refugees from Blue Nile State in Sudan. Bishop Adwok, who spent time visiting Jesuit Refugee Service projects, underlined the importance of meeting both refugee and host community needs and fostering a welcoming environment.
"It is very important for JRS to be a bridge between the refugees and the host community. I also ask you to be strong advocates of the needs of the refugees. I have been with them; I have heard their plea, and it cannot remain unattended," the bishop added.
While visiting the JRS teacher training and English adult education programs* being offered to the host community, the bishop encouraged the students to take this opportunity to learn more so they can serve better their people.
The words of the bishop, who spent the afternoon in Doro refugee camp sharing the joys and sorrows of the Sudanese refugees, reflected those of Adolfo Nicolás S.J., Father General of the Society of Jesus. Speaking at an event organized in Rome to commemorate the thirty-fourth anniversary of the foundation of JRS, Fr Nicolás emphasized the centrality of the hospitality toward refugees.
"Our understanding recognises the claim that all of us have to be welcomed, not because we are members of a specific family, race or faith community, but simply because we are human beings who deserve welcome and respect."
This call to welcome the refugees and to be active advocates of their needs echoes the vital role the Catholic Church played during the long years of war in South Sudan, as it has been captured by John Ashworth in his recent book, The Voice of the Voiceless. In times of war and destruction the voice of the Church can become a source of consolation to those who suffer and bring some international attention to conflicts otherwise forgotten.
Despite having been evacuated twice in 2014 due to the insecurity, the JRS team on the ground hopes to build peace and stability, deepening its commitment to the refugees and host community members in Maban in the journey towards a more dignified future. Bishop Adwok's recent visit has been a joyful reminder that the Church leaders remain with their people through thick and thin, even asking them to go an extra mile and become true beacons of hospitality.
by Pau Vidal S.J.
JRS Maban Project Director
* You can help support JRS education efforts in Maban. Please click here to make a secure online donation.
• $25. One kit with basic school material for one year for one child in Primary School in Maban Refugee Camps to facilitate his or her learning process.
• $50. One kit with basic school material for one year for one student in Secondary School in Maban Refugee Camps to facilitate his or her learning process.
• $60. One rechargeable light for a student to allow him or her to study after dark and thus, improve performance.
• $75. Funds a 12-week course on Basic Literacy and English for one person; the current rate of illiteracy among adults is estimated to be around 80%.
• $100. One blackboard and chalk supply for one academic year for one of the classrooms in the primary schools and ALP (Accelerated Learning program for Adults) in Maban Refugee Camps to improve their learning environment.
• $150. One school desk for three students of primary school and ALP (Accelerated Learning program for Adults) in Maban Refugee Camps to improve their learning environment.
• $550. One computer to offer basic computer training to empower some members of the refugee community in computing skills.
• $3500. A Printer/Copier/Scan Photocopier to locally produce quality education materials for teachers and students of schools in Maban Refugee Camps to facilitate teaching, evaluation methodologies and student’s learning process.
Peace Building and Education in South Sudan