Two weeks ago Theresa (not her real name) counted herself among the luckiest of girls in Sudan. A bright, energetic and inquisitive 10th grader, she loved school and had her heart set on becoming a doctor. At the end of March she went home to her village for the Easter holiday. Several days later she reappeared at the school's front gate, utterly distraught. "I've been married off to an old man for 40 cows," she wailed. "My life is finished." She could not be comforted.
Early marriages. Dowries of cattle. Wedding promises sealed when girls are still infants. Complex arrangements involving parents and uncles and the needs of extended family to gain cows or pay off debts. All of this leaves young Sudanese girls extremely vulnerable. The dominant "cattle culture" that deems females to be worth less than livestock will change only when more and more girls become educated, recognize their human dignity, claim their voice, and assume their rightful place in civil society.
Sister Edvine, Principal of St Bakhita Primary School in Narus, Sudan, holds in her lap one of the 6 Kindle eReaders delivered to her in Nairobi by Sister Marilyn in April 2010. These electronic marvels were purchased with donations to Mercy Beyond Borders from the Junior Class at Mercy High School in Burlingame, CA. Each Kindle is stocked with over 280 books, effectively creating an instant library for the 800 girls at St Bakhita, where paper books are scarce--and in any event, do not last long under the ravages of the extreme heat and humidity, not to mention the insatiable appetites of termites!
Sr Edvine sends a huge THANK YOU to the students at Mercy for their wonderful gifts!
Hanging on fences and store fronts, nailed to tree trunks and plastered on walls, the signs are everywhere: Come and Vote! For the first time in a quarter century, after 21 years of civil war, the peoples of Southern Sudan are able to vote. Over a span of 4 days in mid-April they cast their votes.
Whereas foreigners living in S. Sudan were uneasy about the potential for violence erupting, the resident Sudanese showed nothing but enthusiasm for the election. They view it as a significant prelude to the 2011 vote for secession to become their own country. They are ready!