The Diocese of Kajo-Keji is one of several South Sudanese dioceses operating in exile in Uganda while civil war continues to rage in their homeland. Here, the Bishop of Kajo-Keji, Emmanuel Murye Modi, reflects on the situation in the camps following a recent visit with the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.
The Lord has led us to make pastoral visits to the camps. We recently encouraged the refugees in the camps in Moyo, Yumbe, and Adjumani districts and the IDPs in Liwolo in Kajo-Keji. Our message was Hope and Trust in God. . . that people should accept the situation with the hope that God will one day restore and gather his people and take them back to South Sudan as He took the Israelites (internally displaced people in Egypt) back to their ancestral land.
Bishops and other clergy join the Archbishop of Uganda, Stanley Ntagali, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, at a recent visit to refugee and idp camps for South Sudanese people currently exiled in Uganda
Photo: Diocese of Kajo-Keji
In both the refugee camps and in internally displaced persons’ camps, there are four main areas of concern that touch every age group, the three listed below, plus inadequate health facilities.
- Spiritual Restoration
There is spiritual dryness. Many had questions such as: Where is God in this situation? Why did he allow South Sudan to suffer this unbearable situation?
We encouraged people to open Preaching Centres under the trees and engaged leaders to continue preaching the good news. Currently we have more than fifty local churches I am presiding over in the camps
- Trauma among the refugees and IDPs
During our pastoral visits in the camps we discovered that many families have broken up due to the trauma that has entered into the hearts and minds of the refugees and internally displaced people. Some of the causes are loss of homes and property and separation of families. The problem is compounded by many youth turning to alcohol, drugs and discos, which makes the trauma worse.
One of the things that contributes to the trauma of both parents and children is lack of educational facilities in the refugee and IDP camps. We have encouraged the refugee communities to organise schools for the children. We thank teachers from South Sudan, who have voluntarily started teaching under the trees, but without resources. This initiative has reduced idleness of children and crime levels in the camps. The diocese has given emergency educational support to eleven refugee schools. We would like to express appreciation to our partners who have contributed this invaluable support.
Our own conviction in the diocese is that the problem of South Sudan is spiritual. We would therefore aim “to reach out to all in love and unity of purpose for the glory of God”. In order to change South Sudan we must focus on children and youth through empowering women, education, and the training of pastors and different groups on trauma healing and peace building.
This was originally published in Voice of Hope, the diocesan newsletter.