South Sudan became independent from Sudan in July 2011 and the country suffered a civil war from 2015 to 2018. Life in South Sudan is very different from anything we are used to in the UK, and the country faces enormous problems. There is limited education and healthcare, dependence on imported food supplied by the UN, frequent flooding and the legacy of decades of war and insecurity.
Wau is South Sudan’s second city and is about the same size as Poole, with a population of around 150,000. It is about 400 miles from the capital, Juba. Wau Diocese is part of the Episcopal (Anglican) Church of South Sudan and covers Western Bahr el Ghazal state in the north-western part of South Sudan.
Archbishop Moses has been working hard to rebuild trust, stability and peace in the country. From January to April 2021, he led a peace mission in Greater Tonj and Twich Counties, holding meetings with communal leaders and a series of peace rallies, which led to an 80% fall in incidents of inter-communal violence.
Poole Wau Partnership has supported a number of different projects in Wau over the past decade, some long-term, others to meet pressing emergencies. Scroll down to read details of a few of them.
St John's College
St John's College Governing Council, 2021.
There are over 400 clergy in Wau Diocese, but until recently, many of them had not even completed primary school level education. St John’s College was set up by the Diocese to deal with this situation, and from a small start with 3 students in 2011, it now has over 400, studying Business Studies and Education, as well as Theology.
The religious and moral philosophy of St. John’ College is “The belief that true education fosters the restoration of the lost image of God in human beings through the harmonious development of the mind, body, social, and spiritual dimensions of humanity”.
Support for St John's has been our main project for the past few years, starting in 2015, when we pledged £3,600 per year. We have been helping to pay the salaries of Theology teachers and the amount of our support has now risen to £17,000 per year. During the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, St John’s College had to shut for six weeks, but support from PWP enabled the college to continue paying teaching staff, ensuring that it did not lose experienced teachers.
In July 2021, the foundations were laid for a new building with four lecture halls and two offices, which when completed will enable further expansion of the college to take place. The new building is to be named 'The Poole-Wau Partnership Block'. We launched an Appeal to raise money for this major project on Tuesday 4th January 2022: see our 2022 Appeal webpage for details:
More details about the college may be found on its website: https://stjohnscollegewau.org
Emergency Food Aid
Although providing humanitarian aid is not our primary aim, we have sent emergency help for urgent and unexpected needs on a few occasions.
In January 2022, armed men from across the border in Sudan attacked villages in Wanyjok Diocese. Within 24 hours of an email to our supporters, we were able to send £3000 to Archbishop Moses to buy food and other supplies for him and other church leaders to distribute to those made homeless by the attack. When this appeal closed at the end of February 2022, a further £1675 had been donated and was sent to Archbishop Moses towards the continuing needs of those in the Yith Pabol area.
When inter-tribal conflict spread to Wau district in 2016, some 5000 internally displaced people from villages in the surrounding area took refuge in the Wau Cathedral compound. PWP donated £3000 for emergency food aid. “The way it happened was a small miracle that looked like Poole Deanery was used by the Holy Spirit,” said Archbishop Moses at the time, as the aid had been sent unasked. “The Church alone was able to feed them - no other source of money was available.”
Women's ministry is an important priority for Wau Diocese, and St John’s College does all it can to enable women to train. A major incentive for women to enrol is that all their meals are paid for. In Poole, sales of teas, cakes, jams and chutneys made by Judy Hudson at two open garden events in June and August 2021 raised an amazing £1,956 for the Female Students’ Feeding Fund.
Diocesan Guest House
The vision of repairing and converting an old colonial-era house in a very poor state close to the Cathedral to create a Guest House was conceived by Bishop Moses in 2012. It would provide guest accommodation for both international and South Sudanese visitors and earn money to support the Diocese, and was our main project from 2012 to 2016.
When Jeff Neagle and Rev Chris Strain from PWP visited Wau in November 2018, they found the guest house is now a really useful facility where they were able to stay very comfortably. As well as accommodating short stay visitors, the guesthouse allows international visitors, such as teachers and other professional people, to stay for longer periods and offer training in areas such as computing, office management, finance, teaching methods in schools, and theological expertise.
‘Sunday’ Primary School
In 2019, PWP launched a special Lent Appeal to help pay for the completion of this primary school in Wau. The building had been started, but money had run out and there were no windows or doors, and the building was in danger of deteriorating.
The appeal raised enough to pay for the 8 doors and 24 windows to complete the school.