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“Maybe people never actually move on. Maybe moving on is just carrying on. Where do you move on to anyway? You still are you, your memory the same memory. And there is no eraser that can erase what experience, the most permanent marker of all markers, has inscribed in the consciousness. I guess we have no choice but to carry on! And carry on we must!”
These words are powerful. They were written by Nyuol Tong, a current Duke University student and former South Sudanese refugee. His words are a testament to the resiliency of the human spirit. His story can be found at http://selfsudan.org.
With current media reports of bombing and conflict along the border of North and South Sudan, Nyuol’s urging to “carry on” is evidence of South Sudan’s determination to move forward despite turmoil.
Americans have been asking me, “Are you safe in South Sudan? Are you scared to be there? Are students at risk?”
Here is what I have been saying in response.
Remember 9/11? People in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington DC were directly impacted by the terrorizing events. They could see wreckage, smell smoke, hear screams, and feel debris on their skin. It was brutal.
What was it like for the rest of the nation? We were shocked. We watched the images of the day unfold on our TVs or computers. Around the United States, and even the globe, we were spectators watching from a distance. We were all impacted, but not of equal magnitude when compared to what was being experienced at Ground Zero.
I would venture to guess that the majority of us in locations outside of NYC, PA, and DC woke up on the mornings of September 12 or 13, got dressed, went to work or school, picked up milk from the store, checked the mailbox, or paid mundane bills. Our awareness of our surroundings was heightened, we were grieving for our nation’s losses, but we continued with our daily rituals and routines. We carried on.
This is similar to what is happening in South Sudan today. The people living along the border with the North are experiencing devastation. They can see, hear, smell, and feel the fighting occurring between northern and southern forces. It is a bad situation. It deserves attention from the international community to promote peaceful negotiations for border demarcation and an agreeable distribution of resources.
For those like Africa ELI staff and students working, living and going to school further south of the border, we get up in the morning, get dressed, and go to school or work. We are aware of the situation. We mourn the loss of life occurring. No one has forgotten the past decades filled with war in North/South Sudan. The memories linger. But the future burns brighter. The cheers for Independence still can be heard. The raising of the new South Sudan flag on July 9, 2011 is inscribed in our collective consciousness.
The situation along the border is not deterring Africa ELI or others from carrying on with education and other public services in the interior of the country. Teaching and learning continue. We believe it is only through education and diplomacy that peace will be fostered and sustained. In light of our circumstances, “we have no choice but to carry on! And carry on we must!”
You can help Africa ELI carry on our important work each day. Will you take a moment and make a donation? Any amount helps us in our work to help South Sudan realize a bright future.
We all have one. We would not exist without her. She makes us want to be better, to do better. Who is that woman in your life? How are you different because of her influence?
May 13 is Mother’s Day. We are taking this opportunity to reach out and ask you to tell us about a woman in your life who inspires you. What do you want the world to know about her?
Write 3 to 5 sentences about the special woman in your life. Maybe she’s a mother, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, or a friend. Whoever she is, tell us about her. We will call it our “Honor Roll.” She has already made the grade. Now we get to cheer for her in this simple way.
Honor Roll submissions will be posted on our “2+1” blog next week on May 10. Take a few moments now to write something and send it to email@example.com. In the message subject line write, “Honor Roll – with her name as it should appear.” We reserve the right to edit for length and clarity.
Laptop, projector and extension cords. Check.
Water, Coke®, and coffee. Check.
Host driver, vehicle with fuel, and destination map. Check.
That’s how Africa ELI rolls. Ready and willing to connect with donors across the United States, we pack our bags, freshen up our presentation with current photos from South Sudan, and hit the road or fly the friendly skies to a location near you.
Sue Plasterer from Madison, Wisconsin coordinated the most recent Africa ELI advocacy and fundraising tour. It was Anita’s 5th visit to the state. Of our 21 donor states, Wisconsin ranks in the top three for contributing sponsorships and resources for students and projects in South Sudan.
Here are 10 tidbits about the recent Wisconsin 10-day tour:
Miles traveled in the state: 1,200
Presentation venues: 21 (schools, churches, Rotary meetings, private homes, and a YWCA)
Host drivers: 9 (Thanks, Sue P., Keith, Sue C., Donna, Arlene, Marilyn, Bernice, Wendell, and Gail!)
Weather: sun, rain, tornadoes, snow
McDonald’s® drive-thrus: 8
Church potlucks: 11
Anita singing the first phrase of the South Sudan national anthem: 19 (Rotarians were spared)
Photographs with really big cow statues: 2
Lost cell phones: 1 (recovered!)
Pictures posted to Anita’s Facebook “Dairyland” album: 38
A significant highlight was an announcement from the Wisconsin Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church identifying Africa ELI as an official mission project. This means that any contributing United Methodist Church group desiring credit for mission giving may direct checks through the Wisconsin UMC Conference, PO Box 620, Sun Prairie, WI 53590. The official project number for Africa ELI is #7951.
Next year’s 2013 Wisconsin tour is already being planned. It’s not too early to request a presentation for your church, organization, or group.
Next up? Alabama, Illinois and East Tennessee.