The Sudanese refugee children must be given the tools to master the future – with a healthy intellectual and moral foundation. Cardinal Zubeir Wako, until December 2016 Archbishop of Khartoum pointed out: ‘We will have a sad future if there are no qualified intellectuals who have had the benefit of some kind of Christian education’. He is convinced that the Archdiocese must keep the presence of the Church alive in the field of education.

Therefore Uganda Martyrs’ Parish in Mayo which is one of the biggest parishes in the archdiocese of Khartoum founded the Boy’s Model and Our Lady of Hope Girl’s Schools. Here a growing number of children (1495 pupils – 739 boys and 756 girls) receive a solid education from Kindergarten till 8th grade. The population is roughly 1 Million people. Families are big with an average of 5 children per family. The schools offer their service also to non-Christians. About 450 Muslim students are enrolled.

Schools are one of the most important elements of our mission as Catholic Church in Sudan. Education will help the people to start depending upon themselves ‘save Africa with Africa’ to overcome poverty, tribalism, bad traditions that go against the dignity of the human person etc… and thus wars, by starting religious, human and economic development. The schools in our parish give us a way to evangelise directly and indirectly through our witness of faith. Directly: by giving catechism, retreats, in general keeping our sacramental pastoral going on. Indirectly: showing Christian moral in work, education, respect, how we treat people (parents, teachers, students), thus giving signs of our faith in the God of Love. This helps us a lot especially with Muslims.

This year we organised a day for the schools to enter through the holy door in the Cathedral, it was a wonderful experience getting all the graces of the Jubilee of Mercy. It was also an opportunity for the parishioners to tie up more and more with the schools, to make them feel more that these are their schools. And that in the schools we can form really a solid new generation in Faith and academically.

Because of the number of students and to improve their academic level, we organised extra courses in the evening for the weak pupils and for the 8th grade to study for the exams prepared by the ministry of education for the whole country. This is made possible by the extra commitment teachers.

Our normal pastoral activities inside the schools are going well: inauguration Mass and at the end of the academic year, Christmas Carol, retreats. Weekly catechism was given in classes; religious films were shown to the students. 

Concerning our financial situation we still face two major difficulties. The parents who are very poor, some of them have more than two kids in our schools, cannot afford paying the school fees in full or partially. The second is that almost all the parents are displaced people (from the Nuba Mountains, Darfur, Southern Blue Nile and South Sudan).

Most of these people depend on casual labour earning only enough for daily subsistence of the family. The people have migrated mostly from the war zones and have suffered the consequences of war. They find it difficult to understand the importance of educating their children. Still they think of withdrawing their children from school and send them into the streets and markets to beg some money. This is why we don’t insist too much on them paying the fees, but rather take the side of the child who is the main beneficiary. However, being in touch with the parents through meetings, and parents seeing their children well treated and improving in their studies, has encouraged some of them to contribute as much as they can.

Nonetheless our support is desperately needed. We help to cover the costs for the growing salaries (due to inflation) for 38 very committed teachers and 6 workers, for water and electricity and for the maintenance of the 40 year old school buildings. Our help makes it also possible to provide the younger pupils of the poorest families with a breakfast.

Mgr. Michael Didi Adgum Mangoria, the new archbishop of Khartoum writes us: ‘I have always appreciated the help that ACN has granted us for many years, in this historical moment in which South Sudan and Sudan are facing the challenges of their new reality after the birth of South Sudan. In this context the schools are playing an essential role in their respective zones. Thus I fully endorse the project for the good of the families and countries at large.’

This article can be found in Mirror 0317.