My time in South Sudan has been incredible, with each day breaking my heart and then rebuilding it through the passion and hope of the refugees. I thank God every day for bringing me here and for daily using me to bless the refugees in this camp. Since arriving, I’ve worked with our warehouse and commodity teams to feed nearly 76,000 people; learned from our water, sanitation, and hygiene teams about water access and health promotion; screened children for malnourishment with our nutrition teams; distributed household items to disabled refugees and house fire victims with our ministry team; and shared the love of Jesus with every single person our programs have reached.
Working with the ministry team was a wonderful opportunity to get out into the community and connect with the refugees. Our morning activities included packaging cooking pots, wooden spoons, salt, sheets, shoes, socks, clothing, and jerricans into large feed bags. We took these bags out into the community and blessed various households that had fallen victim to fire.
In the camp, most of the housing is built from the surrounding environment. Sticks and grass are largely used as the main materials for home construction. These, combined with the hot and dry environments, easily catch fire. Families cook over open flames, and the winds catch these flames and engulf homes rapidly. Due to the close proximity of homes, multiple families tend to suffer during each incident.
We met with these families, prayed with them, and shared these few items with them so that they could begin the process of rebuilding their lives again. We also met with the disabled population in the community. These individuals varied in age and suffered from a multitude of conditions, some genetic in nature, most attributed to the war that haunts so many of their pasts. Even in a refugee camp, the disabled tend to become a forgotten, underserved population.
In the afternoons, the ministry staff members teach adult English and biblical literacy courses. These voluntary and free programs are offered daily for two hours and are attended by more than 150 adult students at each of the five school locations. Their thirst for knowledge was refreshing and their appreciation overwhelming. Whenever I walked into a classroom, the entire class would stand and welcome me in unison. They loved hearing me speak English and got a kick out of my limited Arabic.
Later, I joined our water, sanitation, and hygiene teams for health promotion. I was interested in the program because because my Master of Public Health concentration is on health promotion. It was great seeing some of the community education and behavior theories that were being implemented into the community.
South Sudan is an incredible place. God has placed His hand of blessing and protection over us. He is good, and I’m honored to be able to share that with the refugees here.
The Samaritan’s Purse internship program is an opportunity for college students and recent graduates to use their skills to impact the world in a tangible way. Find out more here.