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Empowering Women and Children

by Gerry Lynch last modified 16 Dec, 2015 03:16 PM

Delegation from Chalke Deanery visits partner Diocese of Cuiebet in South Sudan

Empowering Women and Children

The staff of the South Sudanese Church's Women's Empowerment Programme show off the products of their Tailoring and Design course

A group of three from Chalke Deanery has just returned from a two week visit to their linked Diocese of Cueibet in South Sudan.

Canon David Henley, the Revd Mark Hayter and Geoff Taylor, Deanery Lay Chair, had meetings in the capital, Juba, before travelling to Cueibet on a 2 hour flight with the UN Humanitarian Air Service and a 2 hour drive along 30 miles of rain damaged track. (“Never complain about the potholes in Wiltshire” commented one of the trio!) The annual visit was the third since the link between the parishes of Chalke Deanery and the Diocese of Cueibet was formed in 2012.

Although there are many reports of a dangerous security situation in South Sudan, the Cueibet area is safe with only minimal precautions such as armed guards on vehicles. The main threats to the population are possible starvation in the more remote areas, a high risk of malaria and the challenge of coping with the large influx of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to the diocese, fleeing from fighting further north. 

During the visit, the group ran a conference for church leaders and delivered a range of donated gifts including football strips from the children of Coombe Bissett Primary School. They saw how projects supported by the Chalke Deanery parishes were progressing and discussed possible future projects including a Women’s Empowerment Programme (WEP) and building school classrooms.

The WEP will provide a 6 month intensive course costing £3,500 for 4 women from Cueibet, training them in Tailoring & Design, Business Management, and basic Health, Food and Nutrition. After completing the course, the women will be able to start up small businesses and train others in similar skills. The emphasis is on self-sufficency, contributing to the growth of the new nation and so helping the peacemaking process.

Cueibet’s primary school has 4 classes with over 200 pupils and it is hoped to cover the full primary range of 8 classes in the next two years. At present, teaching takes place in the shade of four large trees with the seating being carried out of the small cathedral by the children at the beginning of the week. During the rainy season, classes are held in the cathedral. The headteacher, Mary Anek Kau, has the plans but needs the equivalent of £2,500 to build the classrooms.

Geoff Taylor commented, “The approach is very simple. If we can raise the funds to build a basic timber-frame structure with a corrugated iron roof, the older children will gain their apprenticeships in brick-making by building the half-height walls. The total cost for the two projects is £6,000. What might seem a relatively small amount to us in terms of what can be achieved, has the power to make a huge difference to the lives of families in Cueibet.”

For more information about these projects contact Geoff on geoffrey.taylor13@ntlworld.com.

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