The impoverished African nation of South Sudan is at a critical crossroads in its history. The country will be holding a national referendum in January 2011 to potentially secede from Sudan as part of a peace accord signed in 2005 between southern leaders and the Sudanese government. The referendum is a vital step to potentially winding down two decades of spiraling violence as forces from the Islamist central government in Khartoum attacked predominantly Christian and animist Sudanese in the south. This has created generations of people who have spent much of their lives in refugee camps or sheltered in villages frightened by the ebbs and flows of war. Into this difficult struggle Southern Sudan Mission entered the picture in 2009. Started by Susan Lintz of Newport Beach, Calif., it began as an informational Web site with links to Anglican Catholic churches through which financial donations could be made. Lintz began the mission after a mission trip to villages around Aweil, the mission works to facilitate distribution of medical supplies and other basic necessities to the people of the region. It has been working in conjunction with the Anglican Catholic Church and the Anglican Church of Sudan and other Christian aid organizations to get assistance where it is needed most. Southern Sudan Mission partners locally with Bishop Wilson Garang and Tabitha Akuel Ayii of the Aweil Diocese. Bishop Wilson is a member of the “Lost Boys,” who spent much of their lives in fleeing the local violence. Bishop Garang has planted more than 180 churches in the region and has been vital to the missions’ success. Tabitha Akuel Ayii is his wife. She works with the Aweil Women’s Christian Association and his helping women and orphans in the Aweil area. Recently, Southern Sudan Mission distributed needed medicines to combat malaria, typhoid and other diseases by garnering online donations from Giving for Hope, an online facilitator of collecting supplies for mission projects around the world. The distribution of these medicines appropriately began on Christmas Day 2009. The mission is registered with the South Sudanese government as a non-profit humanitarian aid organization and recently achieved full-fledged 501(c3) non-profit in the United States to widen its base and extend its reach. In an interview with Everyday Christian, Bishop Garang stated that even the smallest amount of help would be welcomed because of the size of the need. “The needs are so very many that you don’t know where to start,” he said. “There are no schools, no hospitals, very few clinics and not many clean water resources. We need to pray for peace so the children can be properly equipped to work for the future of the country.” Lintz said attaining non-profit status will allow the mission to more effectively raise funds and serve the South Sudanese. “There is so much going on in Southern Sudan now: they are on the edge of true independence and a new freedom not known in modern history,” Lintz said. “Because the southern part of the country has been denied most forms of development, there is much catching up. The U.S. has had sanctions against Sudan since 1997. Although it may put pressure on the ruling government, it also hinders the South’s ability to join in the modern world through the exchange of goods and services and investment. Some of the sanctions were modified in 2006 to provide exceptions for regional governments in the South with no connection to the North. But, as governments tend to do, the red tape and bureaucracy make it difficult at best. And now there is the renewed threat of terrible violence as the North wants status quo “unity” while the South wants independence. “Helping people help themselves at the local level is an effective way to help facilitate change and empowerment. To help toward those goals, Southern Sudan Mission has become a non-profit organization. Our focus is in the Aweil area of Bahr El Ghazal state. It is very isolated and difficult to reach in this political environment. Currently, all of our proceeds will be donated to medical supplies. Our goal is also to provide small grants for education for adults who desire to become medical clinical officers or teachers. We would also like to encourage local entrepreneurship in the Aweil area as well.”
Published December 3rd, 2010 by Peter Elliott
Southern Sudan Mission
Peter Elliott is a veteran news and sports journalist. He enjoys interviewing others about how God works in their lives and sharing that with readers. He is also a lifelong, long-suffering Chicago Cubs fan. He resides in Indianapolis with his wife and three sons.
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