School will provide hope to children in desperate need
After years of civil war, families and orphaned children in South Sudan live in a country in ruins. Faced with little access to food and an inadequate education system, many desperate parents make the unthinkable decision to leave their starving children at an orphanage, to give them a chance at life.
The staff at House of Hope are faced daily with parents asking them to take their children. The orphanage, part of OneWay’s Streams of Living Water ministry, already cares for 48 girls, and has to turn away many others due to lack of capacity to take them in.
House of Hope is looking to address these problems by opening a community school in February of 2023 — the beginning of the South Sudanese school year — where children in need will receive meals, clothing, Christian education and medical care while returning home to their parents in the evening.
The community school would help children like Mark, an orphan who was left to care for nine of his younger siblings. Mark’s spiritually solid, bright older sister lives at the House of Hope, and she is one of 18 older girls now living in Uganda for her secondary education.
When Mark’s family lost their mother, their father remarried. Their father also passed away, leaving the ten kids in the care of their stepmother, who is unable to provide food. Some days, the children eat leaves just to put something in their stomachs.
Mark has now graduated near the top of his class, and hopes to get help for his younger siblings as well.
The community school could provide at least some relief to families facing such desperate living situations.
The country’s border closure during the COVID-19 pandemic cut off much of their access to imported goods. As if the situation was not already dire, with South Sudan itself able to produce next to nothing, the price of meat has recently doubled.
About 70 percent of children in the country do not receive an education, putting them at horrible risk. In the schools that do exist, teachers lack training and often turn to brutal forms of corporal punishment in the classroom when students misbehave.
Lack of education leads to lack of employment as an adult, which often paves the way for hopelessness, drug use and hunger.
Children who are already orphaned may turn to eating scraps out of the garbage or using hallucinogenic drugs in the streets to kill hunger pangs and bury the trauma brought on by poverty and loss of their parents. They are also prone to human trafficking and life-threatening illness.
A church near the House of Hope has more than 20 volunteer Sunday school teachers who will be trained as school teachers beginning in September. After observation, a few of them will be chosen to teach the children in the community school classroom.
House of Hope will begin this program with 6-10 kindergarten students, taking in more kindergarteners each year while retaining the prior groups as they progress. The school will gradually expand to teach a new grade every year until they have a fully functioning primary and secondary school.
A project of this magnitude requires training and external funding.
House of Hope staff member, Susanna, will be attending a conference in South Africa this October to better learn how to care for traumatized children and enable other staff members to do the same.
Please be in prayer for the House of Hope staff, as well as the future students they will be taking in next year. We are asking God to provide for and use this ministry to bless and save families stuck in extreme poverty in South Sudan.