Women ‘donate themselves’ to help find peace in South Sudan campaigner tells UN meeting

How women are leading the way to peace and reconciliation.

[L-R] Harriet Baka Nathan & Joy Kwaje Eluzai
Photo Credit: ACNS

Originally Posted on: March 16, 2017 3:28 PM by Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS)

Related Categories on ACNS: apjn, iawn, Other News, South Sudan, Sudan, UN, UNCSW

Begin quoteKey Anglican campaigners for peace and justice in war-torn South Sudan have told a meeting at the United Nations in New York about the vital role women and the church have been playing in peace building and supporting the victims of conflict.

Harriet Baka Nathan, from the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Mothers’ Union, and Joy Kwaje Eluzai, a member of the country’s national assembly, were speaking to a packed meeting at the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

“Women have become an example to the community,” Harriet told them. “The church has become a role model as we wait for a bigger peace – reconciliation. The women never waited, the Mothers’ Union never waited, the Church never waited. We are donors of ourselves – when the conflict comes, we call a meeting and we give whatever we have.”

Harriet described how the conflict had devastated the country, displacing hundreds of thousands of people. The absence of people to work the land had led to widespread hunger and now there was a famine. She told the meeting how on one occasion, she had been part of a convoy taking aid to displaced people who had fled into the bush.

“God gave me courage to escort 25 tons (of aid) into a camp which was in the bush. This was very dangerous – I could have been raped or killed. But I did not have that fear at all because I was dressed with a spirit of boldness.

“She described how extreme hunger had left many women in the camp bedridden. But once a distribution centre was set up, the atmosphere began to change.

“In a short time there was smoke (around the camp) – people began to make porridge on small fires. Hope came back and then life came back.”

Harriet gave the meeting snapshots of various projects where women were working to bring peace to South Sudan.  She said they had initially been left out of negotiations but were now monitoring the implementation of peace agreements and lobbying hard for the agreements to be honoured.

In one example, she explained the vital role women had played in the diocese of Bor, the scene of some of the fiercest fighting. She had realised that bringing peace – and food – among the women would be a uniting factor.

“Because once you unite the women… where are the husbands who will not follow their wives and their children?  So as the women (from different tribes) got united – their families began to benefit and slowly these fighting men, who were not coming together, slowly they came in too.

“So the project provided food and united these fighting tribes. Now Bor is a role model for the Church. It has really created hope and it has created peace.”

Harriet also described how thousands of women had benefited from projects in literacy, numeracy and income generation and how better education had given them confidence to participate more fully in society. She said they felt inspired and economically empowered.

She thanked Christians around the world for their ongoing support.

“We are not alone with the Anglican Communion behind us,” she said. “If we were all alone, I don’t think we could make it”.Joy Kwaje Eluzai urged the audience to do more.“We are looking for shoulders to help us,” she said. “How can we reach your governments to make sure that peace is reached in South Sudan? How do we get your support and your strength to tell your governments that we are tired of the war?”

Noting that the theme of UNCSW61 is the economic empowerment of women, she said this had been eroded by the conflict in South Sudan. But she said the country had the desire, energy and the capacity to achieve the goals that had been set out by the UNCSW on the opening day.“t is only with peace that we can put the economic empowerment of women into perspective,” she said. “Economic empowerment of women benefits society. If a woman is empowered, that family is empowered…  and her children will never go uneducated.”

The meeting had to be hastily rescheduled by the Anglican Communion team at the UN after a snowstorm hit New York. The UN building was one of many in the city which was forced to stay closed because of the bad weather. Transport was also badly hit. But despite the difficulties, around 60 delegates attended the briefing by Harriet and Joy.

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Source: Women ‘donate themselves’ to help find peace in South Sudan campaigner tells UN meeting

South African Anglicans respond to Archbishop Deng’s Challenge

On October 5th we shared the ACNS reporting of Archbishop Deng’s challenge to the Church. He was speaking to Anglicans in South Africa (and to all women and men of goodwill). The Church in South Africa has responded.

The Primate of the Episcopal Church of Sudan, the Most Revd Daniel Deng Bul YakThe Anglican Church in Southern Africa has committed itself to form a partnership with the Episcopal Church in Sudan, with which it shares membership of the Anglican Communion.

The commitment to pursue a ‘partners in mission’ relationship was made by the church’s Provincial Synod, meeting this week in Benoni, South Africa. I

t came in response to the address given by the Archbishop of Sudan, the Most Revd Dr Daniel Deng Bul, who has been a guest of the Provincial Synod, and of the Synod of Bishops which preceded it.

Read the report shared by AllAfrica.com on 10/7/13

A challenge from Sudan

On Sunday (10/6) we will take a closer look at 2 Timothy 1:1-14 (the lesson appointed for worship). Among other things we’ll hear, anew, the Apostle’s exhortation: “rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. (vv. 6-7 NRSV). Overall this letter exhorts Timothy (and us) to continue to trust the God who has called us and blessed us and sent us into the world to share God’s love.
In the midst of this study comes this challenge from the Primate of the Episcopal Church of Sudan (ministries exist in both Sudan and South Sudan). It is a reminder that being Christian is not always easy and that trusting God is not always easy and that prayer needs to be concurrent with action.

The Primate of the Episcopal Church of Sudan, the Most Revd Daniel Deng Bul YakThe Primate of the Episcopal Church of Sudan, the Most Revd Daniel Deng Bul Yak has challenged the worldwide Anglican Communion to actively help the war-affected people of South Sudan.

He was speaking in an exclusive interview with ACNS in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he is attending the Anglican Church of Southern Africa’s Provincial Synod as special guest.

The Primate complained that the Anglican Church in South Sudan felt it was struggling alone and not receiving adequate support from other Member Churches. “People are just saying we are supporting you in prayers, but prayers must be followed by action.

“We need good education and health and there are a lot of experienced people within the Anglican Communion who can come and help us,” he said. “We need missionaries to come and set up schools and health centres in South Sudan. There is a lot that Anglicans can do to help.” (Anglican Communion News Service, ACNS)

Read the complete report of the Archbishop’s Challenge.

Let us add this to our Sunday discussion. Come and join us on Sunday (10/6/13) if you are able.

One Million Bones

On Wednesday April 24, 2013 our group of “hikers” walked with Hovak Najarian into a place of death as we remembered the Armenian Genocide (1915). For some, like me, it was the first time I had ever heard of the atrocities in Armenia at the start of World War I. This is the handout that opened our eyes and hearts.

As we remembered this genocide, “the first genocide of the 20th century,” we were forced to look at how this evil has continued and still continues into our own day. We discovered several resources that can only serve to help us ask and answer the question, “How am I to love my neighbor as I love myself?”

The One Million Bones Project recently came to my attention via the TED Blog. Combining ‘art’ and study a stunning visual installation is being prepared for The Mall in Washington, D.C. and will be in place June 8–June 10, 2013.

Here is a quick look to explain how this project and its installations work. This video documents a smaller installation done in Albuquerque, NM:

My introduction to the One Million Bones Project came via the TED Blog interview with Naomi Natale posted on May 24, 2013:

For four years, artist Naomi Natale’s social art practice, the One Million Bones project, has used education, hands-on artmaking and public art installation to raise awareness of ongoing genocide and mass atrocities. On June 8, Naomi and the One Million Bones team will be joined by thousands of volunteers to lay down the one million human “bones,” which participants have made by hand, on the National Mall in Washington, DC — creating a striking visual representation of conflicts we cannot continue to ignore.

Introduction to the interview with Naomi Natale

Please read the entire interview. Please listen to the Spirit and make your own determination about what you can ….

Additional Resources

Wind Chimes: 15 Oct 2012

Women buying fruit in a downtown market in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

Through the rest of this week we’ll wonder, with Job, where is God? Where is God in the midst of enormous challenges facing his creation and his ‘children’ throughout creation—even those we consider our ‘enemies’? And where is God in the challenges we face?

Sometimes the chimes sound far-off, sometimes near. What do you hear?

God is too good to believe in

God is not too hard to believe in. God is too good to believe in, we being such strangers to such goodness. The love of God is to me absolutely overwhelming. It’s clear to me, two things: that almost every square inch of the Earth’s surface is soaked with the tears and blood of the innocent, and it’s not God’s doing. It’s our doing. That’s human malpractice. Don’t chalk it up to God. Every time people say, when they see the innocent suffering, every time they lift their eyes to heaven and say, “God, how could you let this happen?” it’s well to remember that exactly at that moment God is asking exactly the same question of us: “How could you let this happen?” So you have to take responsibility. —William Sloane Coffin in an interview with Religion & Ethics Newsweekly on August 27, 2004.

October 15 – International Rural Women’s Day

“Where is God? How could God let this happen?” High food prices affect us all. While we may complain about this, we know that in rural locations throughout our nation and the world the affect of high food prices can be devastating.

“Prices of food have really gone up and this has made my children and I not to eat as we used to. We used to eat four times a day but now we can only eat two times under hard struggle.” — Salome Nche, mother of eight, Cameroon excerpt  from the Huairou Commission report “Grassroots Women’s Perspectives on Food Insecurity in Africa, Asia and Latin America,” 2009

Go to more information about the need and the beginning responses to meet the need.

One way Episcopalians “take responsibility” is through the work of Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD). Financial contributions from members and non-members fund work ‘on-the-ground’ in rural communities. Here is one example:

[ERD] Alleviating Hunger and Improving the Food Supply [in both Sudan and South Sudan in partnership with The Episcopal Church of Sudan]

  • approximately 24 agriculture resource agents will be trained over the next three years (one for each diocese)
  • following a three-month training course, each resource agent will establish a model garden to demonstrate agricultural techniques
  • the agent will train communities in sustainable land management, focusing on household gardens which can provide families with nutritious food and needed income
  • For more information

A prayer of remembering before a meal

“O God when I have food, help me to remember the hungry.
When I have work, help me to remember the jobless.
When I have a comfortable home, help me to remember
those who suffer from the cold or from the heat.
When I am without pain, help me to remember those who suffer.
In all this remembering, help me to destroy my own complacency
and bestir my compassion.
Make me concerned enough to help by word, deed and prayer,
those who cry out for what I so often take for granted.”

Contained in a Facebook posting by fr. James martin on 24 July 2012. He heard this prayer. Offered as a blessing before lunch in a 2012 meeting in Massachusetts of roman catholic school superintendents and principals

Photo: Women buying fruit in a downtown market in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. FAO is implementing its Initiative on Soaring Food Prices (ISFP) in the country to rapidly boost food production in order to increase food availability and accessibility and to alleviate the effects of soaring food prices on poor and vulnerable groups. Credit: FAO/Alessandra Benedetti Additional information about the International Day of Rural Women

The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church …

The Martyrs of the Sudan

… so said Tertullian in the 3rd century CE. Martyrdom isn’t relegated to days long ago and places far away. As a community we remember those who, even now, witness to the faith with their very lives.

Quote . . .On May 16, 1983, a small number of Episcopal and Roman Catholic clerical and lay leaders declared they “would not abandon God as they knew him.” Possibly over two million persons, most of them Christians, were then killed in a two-decade civil war, until a Comprehensive Peace Treaty was signed in January 2005. During those years, four million southern Christians may have been internally displaced, and another million forced into exile in Africa and elsewhere. Yet despite the total destruction of churches, schools, and other institutions, Sudanese Christianity, which includes four million members of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, has both solidified as a faith community, and gradually expanded at home and among refugees, providing steadfast hope in often-desperate setting.

—from the blog post on Holy Women, Holy Men

The Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SCLM) is currently revising the “old” Lesser Feasts and Fasts calendar of the Episcopal Church. The commemoration of the Martyrs of the Sudan is “new.”  This work of revision (and more) of the SCLM will be discussed in the General Convention in Indianapolis, IN this summer.

The Collect for this Commemoration

O God, steadfast in the midst of persecution, by your providence the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church: As the martyrs of the Sudan refused to abandon Christ even in the face of torture and death, and so by their sacrifice brought forth a plentiful harvest, may we, too, be steadfast in our faith in Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Image: Holy Women, Holy Men

Advent Calendar Day 23: The Episcopal Refugee Network

The Episcopal Refugee Network

As citizens of the 21st century we are sadly acquainted with the results of violent conflict and genocide, or drought and famine as hundreds of thousands of persons become refugees and are displaced from family, home, and even country. On behalf of you and me and all people of goodwill the Episcopal Refugee Network of our Diocese is working to meet the needs of refugees who arrive in San Diego.

Quote . . .San Diego hosts almost 3500 Sudanese refugees, mainly from the Dinka, Nuer, Bari and Equatorial tribal areas of the Sudan. … The Refugee Network also helps families who have been displaced by genocide in Burma and Bhutan.” From our Diocesan website

The work of the Episcopal Refugee Network

The Episcopal Refugee Network supports families during
their years of adjustment to American life by providing:

  • Help with documentation
    Enrolling children at school
    Social Security registration
    Welfare/benefits registration
  • Translation for
    Medical visits
    Official interviews
    Registering children at School
  • Assistance in
    Obtaining employment
    –filling out applications etc…
  • Tutoring Programs

Learn more: About The Episcopal Refugee Network

Advent Calendar in one place
About the Online Advent Calendar


For further reflection

Read MORE ON REFUGEES IN SAN DIEGO

Two Frequently Asked Questions answered by International Justice Mission:

Who are refugees and displaced persons?

They are men, women and children fleeing war, persecution and political upheaval. They are uprooted with little warning, enduring great hardship during their flight. They become refugees when they cross borders and seek safety in another country. They are displaced when they are forced to flee their homes, but remain within the borders of their native country.

The 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, as amended by its 1967 protocol defines a refugee as a person who “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country…”

The U.S. will not recognize persons who have participated in war crimes and violations of humanitarian and human rights law, including the crime of terrorism, as refugees. They are specifically excluded from the protection accorded to refugees.

How many refugees and displaced persons are there, and who makes up the majority of the refugee population?

Right now there are about 42 million displaced people in the world.   One in every 170 persons in the world has been uprooted by war.  This is the largest category of vulnerable people in the world.  About one third of them are officially recognized refugees because they have crossed an international border.  The other two thirds are so-called internally displaced persons, or IDPs, because they are still within their own country.  Of the world’s 12 million or so refugees, about 3.2 million are in Africa.  In addition, Africa has about half of the world’s 25 million IDPs.

80 percent of the world’s refugees are women and children who are more vulnerable to their unstable conditions.

Source: International Rescue Committee Frequently Asked Questions About Refugees and Resettlement accessed 16 Dec 2011

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Image: Episcopal Refugee Network Home Page