South Sudan is the youngest country in the world, with its national identity still emerging. The country continues to face serious civil unrest and endemic violence. The lives of many South Sudanese have been deeply altered by the effects of conflict. Almost two million people have been internally displaced since the outbreak of civil war in 2013. Sowing Seeds for Social Transformation is a program supported by CJI with the Xavier Network for the Jesuits Eastern Africa Province (AOR) works in South Sudan. The program aims to accompany people in local communities to lead a more sustainable livelihood. It empowers them by providing access to holistic education and psychosocial support, enhancing their capacity for peace building and advocacy, and strengthening their institutions for more effective services.
The work at Majis in Rumbek provides improved food security and self-reliance, particularly for women, through increased food production. It looks to give young people skills and a means of earning an income, counteracting the negative psychological impact of being idle and having no opportunities. The program seeks to accompany people and support their resilience in a context of violence and insecurity. It builds community and leadership capacity to help sow seeds of social transformation.
The aim at Loyola Secondary School in Wau is to improve the learning experience and performance of students. Students at Mazzollari Teacher Training College are educated on learning techniques, curriculum content, and creating and maintaining a supportive learning environment. The aim is to empower students to use the curriculum content as tools for understanding the conflict surrounding them. They are also helped to use their knowledge to promote peace in their communities. The various programs seek an improved culture of safeguarding children throughout the Jesuit works in South Sudan.
With the support of Canadian Jesuits International and the Xavier Network, an international mission and development partnership of 13 Jesuit organizations working in faith to promote justice, the Jesuits and their teams are achieving a great deal in South Sudan in spite of the impact of COVID-19. Those who benefit from the programs have access to education and food and have opportunities for a livelihood in a peaceful context where their rights are respected. They are being given a just future.
In his latest encyclical, “Fratelli Tutti,” Pope Francis looks for tangible ways for those who wish to build a more just and fraternal world. He speaks of an “open world” where there are no “others,” no “them.” He says that there is only “us”. The Pope suggests that we need to think of ourselves more and more as a single family dwelling in a common home. He says how every day offers us a new opportunity, a new possibility. We have the tools we need for co-responsibility in creating and putting in place new processes and changes.
The notion of a “Just Future for All” has been a rallying cry for a long time for many international and local organizations. It has now received a greater profile because of the global impact of COVID-19. Millions have contracted the virus, many of them dying. The pandemic has forced profound changes on all of us: school closures, job losses, travel restrictions and bans, new ways of working, restrictions on gatherings such as weddings and funerals, and limitations on public gatherings. Through the tremendous global upheaval, the injustices and inequalities that confront our world remain. There is an increasingly strong need for a just future for all.
Organizations such as CJI and the Xavier Network need to continue to develop consensus with those challenging the system and looking for change. There is a need to “build back better”, and to avoid the us/them dichotomy. It’s helpful for us to focus on the common problems that we can manage together. We have the Sustainable Development Goals as a unifying framework. COVID-19 has shown how interconnected we are globally. Our common future will benefit from increased international solidarity. There is a need to redefine progress to focus more on wellbeing and sustainable development than just economic development. The effectiveness of the Xavier Network has taught us the potential of working together to build greater global partnerships and networks of people and organizations. What we share in common is that we are advocating and lobbying for justice for all.
Please support CJI’s A JUST FUTURE FOR ALL campaign!