Category: General
Posted by: Lisa
There's a lot of talk in the NGO world about a community taking ownership of a project. This happens all the time in Wunlang. Assistant field manager Deng Chier organized the group that slashed a path for the truck to deliver the construction materials that became Wunlang School. Once Wunlang had school buildings, headmaster Angelo Akot went to UNICEF on his own and acquired textbooks. And now, suddenly, we have school sports scores to report. The Wunlang School now has a soccer (or football, or kuro) team and, in a home game, defeated Yargot 1-0.

Yargot (also from Aweil County East, near Akuem) is in blue, Wunlang in assorted colors.

Our team meets with the referee.

It appears the two upright sticks on the far left of this photo form one of the goals.

Some of the action, with the Wunlang School campus in the background.

The school to the left, traditional houses to the right, a big crowd in front.

And yes, we have noticed that the Wunlang team does not have enough shoes to go around. Our first impulse is to scoop up all the old soccer cleats we have around here and send them over. But there's the question of sizes and the cost of shipping them to Wunlang. Any leads on corporate sponsorship appreciated. If you'd like to sponsor a pair of shoes, we're figuring buying the shoes in Aweil and getting them to Wunlang would run about $25 a pair.

W-U-N-L-A-N-G! Wunlang!
Category: General
Posted by: Lisa
We get photos whenever we can -- getting to Internet access is always a challenge in Wunlang. Angelo just sent more photos of the uniform distribution.

The uniforms arrived from the tailor by motorbike, with our field manager Yel Maduok Ngor leading the way.

Yel arranged the uniforms by sizes for distribution.

New students now ready for school. These children weren't attending school before due to a lack of uniforms.

The taller girls are in the back. You'll notice that these are not your average primary-school students. For many girls and young women, this is their first chance at education. We're very proud that the Wunlang community is encouraging education for all.

We have since heard that are about 50 students who hadn't registered for school and heard of the uniform distribution too late. Angelo reports they went away crying. If you'd like to bring smiles to their faces, please make a donation, and we'll order more fabric for our tailor as soon as we can.

Category: General
Posted by: Lisa
We've wanted to build a clinic in Wunlang for quite some time. When Franco and Ron made their first trip assessing the conditions in Wunlang, they found villagers carrying their relatives, walking for at least a day, to Dr. Luka's clinic near Wanyjok. Too far a walk for many people.

Now we're delighted to report that we've received a grant to start such a clinic. It will be a clinic that will focus on preventing illness and treating common problems. We'll also arrange transport to take patients to Dr. Luka's or to the hospital in Aweil.

Our field manager Yel Maduok Ngor will soon be organizing brick-making and contractors. Two years ago, this was completely new to Yel. Now he and his assistant Deng Chier, by managing the building of Wunlang School, have acquired skills and confidence they didn't have before. As they gain experience in building a clinic in Northern Bahr-el-Ghazal, we'll pass their knowledge along to our program manager Malong Malual as he begins work on the Alal Community clinic in Warrap State.

We're off to a healthy start!

Category: General
Posted by: Lisa
In photos of Wunlang School, you'll see lots of kids in school uniforms. You'll see a few in school that are wearing their own clothes. Strictly speaking, those kids should not be there. It's been the culture in Sudan for decades that students must wear uniforms to school. In addition to the kids who are there in their own clothes, you don't see the kids who aren't in the photos because they don't have uniforms. They may not have any clothes decent enough to attend school in. Their families may not have money to pay for uniforms.

Angelo Ngong Kiir, our field director, surveyed the area and learned about 200 kids weren't attending school because they lacked uniforms. The urgent need sent us searching for local tailors. We found one in the nearby town of Akuem and negotiated a good price for such a large order. Again, we're happy to provide local employment, rather than ship in uniforms from Uganda or Kenya.

What an easy way to increase enrollment and to retain students!

We were a little startled to learn that the teachers requested uniforms, too. But Ron remembered when a teacher said that he owned only one shirt. So, thanks to St. Paul Lutheran Church, we were able to fund their request, too.

I wondered what teacher uniforms would look like: surely not like the students'. They are actually what American teachers call "teacher clothes" -- casual yet professional.

Americans would say they look very sharp. They would say "now, they look smart."

(Who's that in the back, in the T-shirt? Our field manager Yel Maduok Ngor, in his VHSS shirt and hat. We figured if the UN could have clothes for their field staff, so could we.)

After Angelo sent these photos, we wondered about Bakhita, our female teacher. Was she still with us? Yes, but she had missed the photo session; her uniform is waiting for her. We certainly want to see that!

Category: General
Posted by: Lisa
Back in November 2008, when Franco traveled to Wunlang, I sent along a suitcase full of posters and school supplies. If you look back in our archives, you'll see that the suitcase didn't travel with Franco -- in fact, it arrived in Aweil the day he was leaving.

He left the suitcase with our field manager Yel, who confirmed he had taken it to Wunlang. But I've wondered, when the teachers got them, what they would do with them. After all, Wunlang had never had any educational posters, since they have never had a school with walls before.

But now I know. Angelo Ngong Kiir, our director who is spending some time in Sudan, just sent these photos:

I sent along the duct tape, too.


I am so delighted to see the posters up. I trust the Wunlang teachers to make good use of them, to each the children and to teach themselves.
Category: General
Posted by: Lisa
Now that our uniform project is moving along, we are thinking about the future of our future graduates of our training program. What will be the best approach to encourage entrepreneurship and community involvement?

Microfinancing leaps to mind. But as New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof points out in his blog, encouraging savings is as important as lending money, and encouraging community involvement is equally important.

So one model we are looking at is the Savings and Internal Lending Communities organized by Catholic Relief Services. The model does not offer loans from an outside group, but helps communities organize their own savings-and-loan associations. There's a safe place for people to keep their money -- note the giant lock box in the photo; the loans are made through a committee made of men and women from throughout the community, not just from the rich landowner to the poor.

We've just started exploring this option, so comments and recommendations would be most appreciated. As we expand our commitment to bringing education and opportunity to South Sudan, developing a model to finance many local enterprises, from tailoring to agriculture and beyond, could become an important part of our mission.
Category: General
Posted by: Ron
The Wunlang School was constructed and furnished in 2008. Between 600 and 800 boys and girls attend classes, and the facility is used for women's literacy training when the regular classes are through for the day.

We are now turning our attention to other needs in the remote village of Wunlang, including:

School uniform sewing project
Health clinic
School farm

We also continue to support the village and surrounding areas with water and sanitation initiatives.

Follow this blog site for updates and progress reports on all of our work in Wunlang.

See our photo-documentation of the Wunlang village project in our Smugmug Gallery.

Watch videos from Wunlang on You Tube.

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