Category: General
Posted by: Lisa
We are absolutely delighted to introduce our newest project and its managers -- Malual-Chum Village Project and the husband-and-wife project managers Peter Manyang Malang and Abuk Mathiang Madut.



Manyang came to America as one of the Lost Boys of Sudan and (as Jacob Makur) attended Arlington, MA, High School. When he became an American citizen, he went back to his village, in Warrap State, north of Tonj, for the first time in 18 years. He met Abuk at the village-wide party in his honor. Abuk arrived in America through the fiancee visa program, and they were married in Arlington. Manyang and Abuk live in Arlington with their five kids -- twins Achan and Ngor, the little girls Achol and Apeu, and baby boy Aru. Manyang works at the Arlington Trader Joe's, Abuk is taking English classes, and the kids are well-known around town through school, pre-school, church, sports, and summer programs.

In May and June of 2012 Manyang traveled back to South Sudan and shot this video

of the wells in his village. As you can see, the hand-dug, open-pit holes are dancing with insects ("Snakes, too," Achan remembers from her years in South Sudan). Manyang's mother gets guinea worm every year -- she just suffers through it, as there is no nearby clinic -- because to dirty water. Stomach problems, worms, and diarrhea are common. Manyang came back determined that he and Abuk should do something for their village.

Like all our other projects, Malual-Chum Village Project is beginning with a well -- drilled, with a hand pump, so clean water is available. If you need a presentation on Manyang and Abuk's efforts, feel free to e-mail them at manyangmalang@aol.com or abukmadut@aol.com. Watch for fundraising events, too. Of course, you're welcome to get this project going now by donating on-line (the process lets you designate donation to this project) or through the mail. Send your check to:

Village Help for South Sudan, Inc.
P. O. Box 8067
Lynn, MA 01904

and mark the memo line Malual-Chum Village Project.


Category: General
Posted by: Ron
Our friends at St. Paul Lutheran Church have supported Wunlang village in South Sudan for several years, starting with our Wunlang School project. Last week their latest fundraiser and social ministry culminated in the assembly of midwife kits that will shipped to the women of Wunlang to help support safe deliveries and care for newborns.

Two years ago the St. Paul's midwife kit project resulted in about 250 kits, shipping to the Wunlang village clinic, and a training workshop for the traditional birth attendants in the village.

When I visited wunlang in February, the TBAs spoke passionately about the importance of the midwife kits and their appreciation for this gift.
Women of Wunlang

A midwife kit includes a sheet, receiving blanket, towel, washcloth, soap, latex gloves, razor blade, and twine. The materials were laid out on tables for assembly.
Midwife Kit Assembly

This year's fundraiser generated 400 kits. Each kit is sealed in a plastic bag, and the bags are boxed for shipping - in boxes donated by Gentle Giant Moving.
Packed Box

The boxes - 26 of them - are now stacked and awaiting pickup for shipping to South Sudan.
Stacked Boxes

A big thanks to the St. Paul's community for their compassion and generosity!
St. Paul Group
Category: General
Posted by: Lisa
Wunlang Clinic in South Sudan
Ron and I spent International Women's Day at a talk hosted by Dr. Thomas Burke of Mass. General Hospital Center for Global Health featuring Dr. Lul Pout Riek, director general of Community and Public Health in the Republic of South Sudan's Ministry of Health, and the Honorable Dr. Yatta Lori Lugor, South Sudan's deputy Minister of Health. It was a good way to spend the day, as the talk on "Health Challenges and Collaborations" focused a great deal on women's and children's health.

South Sudan's maternal mortality -- death in childbirth -- is still the highest in the world. Infant mortality has improved somewhat, from 102 deaths under age five per 1,000 births in 2006, to 75 per 1,000 in 2010. Malaria, tuberculosis, cholera are all still killers. The frightening and relatively new nodding disease is still a mystery to doctors. All sorts of parasites still thrive: South Sudan accounts for 97 percent of the world's guinea-worm cases.

There are few clinics, and fewer trained medical personnel, to tackle these issues, and most of those personnel work in South Sudan's urban areas. Dr. Riek put out a call for medical equipment and for volunteers in working in clinics and training clinicians. Many NGOs are doing this already, but "South Sudan is vast, vast," he said, and the needs are everywhere.

And the opportunity for Village Help for South Sudan to participate in this call, with our new clinic and our upcoming community center, is huge. We have a place for clinicians to practice, and soon will be space to train future clinicians. We did a lot of networking after the talk, discussing our work with the health ministers and with those in the audience who have trained midwives in South Sudan and who have access to medical supplies. We will keep you posted on how we are bringing life-saving health care to remote areas of South Sudan.
Category: General
Posted by: Lisa
As is so often the case with travel in South Sudan, Ron did not leave for Aweil on the day he hoped for. But that gave him time to make more connections in Juba,including one with the new Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Sudan/South Sudan.

Ron writes, " I have followed up with an email explaining Global Health Ministries and the medical kits and services they provide through local in-country contacts through the Lutheran Church. The Bishop is interested. . . . I do think just connecting GHM with the South Sudan diocese will result in more distribution of these precious newborn kits, suitcase ministries, and maybe even a medical mission or two. I would love to help build that relationship because the needs here are so great."

Lutheran Church in Juba, South Sudan

Readers may recall that St. Paul Lutheran Church of Arlington, MA chose Wunlang Clinic to receive more than 250 midwife kits assembled by the church (as they were called then; GHM has changed some of the items included and re-named them newborn kids). We were able to provide these kits and the training in their use of these kits last year.

We have supporters from many faith traditions, but the people of St. Paul were one of the first. Whether or not this connection Ron has made benefits Wunlang Clinic directly, we're happy to facilitate even deeper Lutheran relationships in South Sudan.
Category: General
Posted by: Lisa
Ron is in Juba, and not only can he find WiFi there, but he is networking with all sorts of people impressed with our work.

He made a presentation at the Juba Rotary Club, and exchanged banners, as he brought one from the Rotary Club of Boston. At that meeting he got a possible lead on upper-elementary-grade teachers, and made a contact with another group advocating for women and children.
Ron at Juba Rotary Club

He is filing our paperwork with the Republic of South Sudan, and meeting new contacts along the way. He writes that when he describes our projects, "Our model of using local labor and materials REALLY resonates with people here. I can feel the energy and enthusiasm of the local officials and all of the contacts I have made ... about the VHSS model. Wow, have we done things right to establish ourselves well with the new RoSS!"

And he had time to stop at the Roots Project, which is selling South Sudanese handcrafts in Juba.

We're gathering ideas for when our community center is up, the crafts classes have begun, there will be products to sell!
Category: General
Posted by: Lisa
Ron Moulton with the traditional birth attendants in Wunlang in 2010

Treasurer Ron Moulton is off to South Sudan with a big and exciting punchlist:

-- In Juba, he's registering our non-profit with the Republic of South Sudan and getting our tax-exempt letter. We were registered with the interim Government of South Sudan, and are just updating our papers in this new nation. He's also making a presentation at the Juba Rotary Club.

-- In Aweil, Ron will meet with the Minister of Education of Northern Bahr-el-Ghazal State, to discuss our plans for alternative and adult education in our community center, and with the Minister of Health, to discuss our clinic and our midwife training program. He'll also meet with Wany Majok, who worked with Franco at Lutheran Social Services of New England and who is now an advisor to the Minister of Education and to the Governor of Northern Bahr-el-Ghazal. We're so fortunate to have an old friend in high places!

-- In Wunlang, he's checking on repairs to the school -- it's more than three years old now. Mou Riiny is also traveling to Wunlang with Ron; as building permanent buildings in Thiou come closer to reality, Mou wants to see what we've accomplished in Wunlang.

-- Ron will also meet with the commissioner of Aweil County East to turn the administration of Wunlang School over to the county. This has always been our plan, and it will give the county and the people of Wunlang true ownership of their school.

-- Franco, during his visit in December, learned that Wunlang does not have a teacher qualified to teach the upper grades -- what would be middle school here -- and students hoping to attend secondary school have to go to boarding school elsewhere in order to qualify. Ron will be discussing the prospect of hiring a qualified teacher for the upper grades.

-- Ron will also be bringing his new IPad to Wunlang! He will be showing the teachers what it can do -- store scores of books, applications from ITunes U (an interactive alphabet app based on Starfall and a talking dictionary are the first two he's loaded), and provide portable internet access.

-- Speaking of internet access, Ron will be looking at the newest ways to connect. We're very interested in the Zain cellular USB connector -- a dongle in computer-accessory parlance -- and Ron will see what's available.

-- Then there's our new multi-purpose community center! Bricks are being made now. Angong Kuol is our program director, and she and Ron will be talking about hiring managers for our various programs. Our first priority is to get the agriculture program underway, and Angong and Ron will be finding sites for our test plots.

-- And dear to this blogger's heart, construction on our guest house will begin. Not only will it be a place for our supporters who want to visit our work to stay, it will be a training center for the hospitality industry. It will be modest -- a traditional house, a latrine, a screened-off bathing area open to the stars -- but we are looking forward to leading groups to see what we have done in a remote area in South Sudan.
Category: General
Posted by: Lisa
Amid all the jubilation for South Sudan's independence came the disquieting news about attacks in Abyei and South Kordofan. Thousands of Sudanese have fled south, many to Aweil County East, and about 700 to Wunlang.

Wunlang is one of the few areas in Aweil County East that has resources to accommodate internally-displaced persons (IDPs): we have wells, a clinic, and a school. All these resources are now being stretched. Our field manager Yel Maduok Ngor reports that IDPs also need emergency services, something that Village Help for South Sudan is not set up to administer.

At the advice of our executive director Franco Majok, Yel is organizing community leaders to approach World Food Program, the Aweil East County commissioner, and Northern Bahr-el-Ghazal State ministries for emergency support. We have seen the people of Wunlang, empowered by building their school, approach local leaders on other matters before, and we have confidence in their initiative.

We'll be monitoring the use of our facilities and assessing the long-range implications of IDPs in Wunlang.
Category: General
Posted by: Ron
Several months ago villagers from Wunlang asked for our support to enable them to construct and operate a multi-purpose center. We are very excited to say the Center has recently been funded by a family foundation. A portion of that funding comes in the form of a matching grant. The Foundation will match each dollar we raise from other sources - up to $40,000.00!

The idea for the multi-purpose center evolved from community meetings among the women and elders of Wunlang village.

Community Meeting

This center will answer many of the needs of the community by providing adult education, vocational training, agricultural training and support, health-care training, antenatal and newborn care, early-childhood care and education, and the empowerment of women and girls.

Elders Meeting

The Center is expected to be a vibrant hub of community activity and service, bringing people together for practical skills development, talent show-casing, and community knowledge diffusion. In addition to constructing the facility, project team and staff members from the local community will run the center, providing training and support in practical healthcare, agriculture skills, community education, and livelihood skills for enterprise start-up.

We appeal to all supporters of Village Help for South Sudan. Make a donation and help us meet our matching fund grant. Thank you!
Category: General
Posted by: Lisa
A short time ago, we published a blog entry on our midwife kits. It includes some fine photos of Wunlang's traditional birth attendants being trained in the use of these kits. We always include photos in our blog posts whenever possible, so our supporters can see that their money is going to good use.

But photos can be hard to get. When we visited Wunlang in 2008, we brought a satellite modem with us. It worked; but it has a steep learning curve, always has to face south, and has an elaborate outdoor setup. Then there are the goats.

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When our field manager Yel tried to send photos of our midwife training, our satellite modem setup was just too glitchy. Yel has often made the trip to Aweil to upload photos, but that doesn't always work, either. However, determination is been a hallmark of our work. Knowing our supporters were eager to see the midwife-training photos, Yel searched found an even better setup: a Zain cellular network USB connector. Instead our suitcase full of equipment and wires, it's a little thing that plugs into the the USB slot.

cellular network USB connector

Zain Sudan is part of a company founded in Kuwait and recently acquired by the Indian firm Bharti Airtel.


It's fascinating how fast communication technology is moving in South Sudan. Three years ago, we were all trying to face south to talk on a sat phone. There were four competing cell phone companies; service was so spotty you could hardly hear within South Sudan. Now we can hear Yel clearly on his cell on a transcontinental call.

Sending photos was a huge production. Now Yel has a found a quick and easy solution that we will be exploring further.
Category: General
Posted by: Lisa
Some weeks ago VHSS got some questions about our work from one Faithful Okoye, who turned out to be an honors student at Broward College in Florida. The next thing we know, the honors program advisor has contacted our treasurer, asking where to send a check.

Faithful had organized a poetry slam and open-mike event, charging students $1 to participate. "The theme was a Hope for A New Tomorrow," she wrote in an e-mail.

"The HSC Band, that is a group of students from the Honors Student Committee, joined together to form a band, and they all performed. . . .
The Broward College Honors Student Committee Band

"I also sang a song called 'Who Says,' by Selena Gomez, which spoke to those in the audience and the children in Sudan, asks Who Says they are not perfect, beautiful or worthy? t was dedicated to all those who for whatsoever life circumstances such as poverty, skin color, people's low expectation of them feel like they will not amount to much.

Faithful Okoye sings in support of South Sudan

"It's also dedicated to Africa and in particular, South Sudan. Who says they can't become a great nation?"

Check for Village Help for South Sudan from the students at Broward College

Faithful is part of "Finish What You Start," a Broward College program designed that helps those who have entered college to press on to complete their degrees. She's applied what she has learned already. Some people talk vaguely about helping out in South Sudan: Faithful, in a matter of weeks, Faithful made something happen. Can you?


 
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