Volunteer Sylvie ponders whether Paradise Lodge in Rumbek (the 3rd largest town in South Sudan) might be a good choice for her next vacation. Let's see: it's within walking distance of the open market and the local prison; it is located on a tree-lined street; it probably isn't too expensive.... It has a restaurant and bar... but probably no running water or colorful postcards to send home saying, "Wish YOU were here, too." Best of all, it's guaranteed, like every place in South Sudan, to have wonderful, welcoming people. And that's the truth!
I snapped this photo back in 1998 in Kakuma Refugee Camp--a barren, dusty corner of northern Kenya desert that was the artificial home for 82,000 refugees. On this particular day a small dark cloud swept across the sky, bringing a sudden welcome downpour. Everyone ran out from their mud-and-thatch huts, lifted their faces to this gift from the heavens, and began dancing in the rain.
This young girl, perhaps 4 yrs old, appeared at my side, wearing only a gunny sack. With her sweet smile and her skin glistening from the fresh rain, she was as beautiful as a queen.
That was 14 yrs ago. Where she is now, I do not know. But I dearly hope she has had a chance for education. That is my hope for all young girls around the world, but especially in places like South Sudan where primary education is only now becoming a real possibility for females. Mercy Beyond Borders is happy to be part of that change--as welcome as unexpected rain in a desert place.
Meet Natalie, Amy, Laura, (me), Johanna, Erin, and Thea, pictured here on the campus of "The Academy of Mary Immaculate" secondary school in the heart of beautiful Melbourne. I spent a delightful week in Australia speaking to these talented young women leaders and hundreds of their peers now enthused about the mission of Mercy Beyond Borders. After they finish university, they're all coming to S.Sudan as volunteers!!
Among Christians it is traditional to re-enact during Holy Week the foot-washing done by Jesus for his disciples on the night before his death. In the village of Mapuordit, South Sudan, the local young adults have started the practice of washing and massaging with lotion the feet of the patients at the local hospital. Here Sr Philippa, who accompanies the young adults, tends to the weary feet of the patient in bed #71. Such acts of service communicate respect and great tenderness and the hope for healing.