Love for South Sudan

Shannon Tokumaru Africa, FCE, Impact

Children see the world in bright colors. For them, it is a platform of possibility. Children deserve to have their future filled with opportunity and ambition. What happens when their world gets stripped of that color and becomes clouded by dust?

Residents of South Sudan make up 1.4 million of the world’s refugees and they are fleeing to settlements in Northern Uganda. Over the last 8 years, South Sudan has been ravaged by civil conflict and famine. Last year, the U.N. declared South Sudan in an official state of famine. Every day over 2,500 people die in South Sudan due to starvation.

Our CEO, Dave Green, recently visited the refugee camps and met with our partners to discuss long-term solutions for South Sudan. He went with the intentions to map out plans for meal distribution and operations, but what he found was the heartbreaking reality of refugee children and families.

“Seeing all of these things, the malnutrition, the lack of economic opportunity, lack of education … It all just broke my heart for the refugees and made me realize we have to do more,” said Green. “It has to be bigger than simply showing up and providing food. We have to attach the food to education and economic development, things that are going to create self-sufficiency through the refugee settlements.”

Throughout his trip, Green began seeing a vision for the hope of what could be possible.

A Vision for Hope

When asked about the vision for the refugees of South Sudan, he mapped out a clear path and did not miss a beat. While at the refugee settlements, he saw the biggest obstacle refugees face is the lack of economic opportunity.

“If we create economic opportunity for them they can start and run a business and create economic output,” Green says.

Our Hunger Project, Love for South Sudan, will be the kick-off to making the vision a reality. On July 14th, we are hosting a project to package 300,000 meals that will be sent to the people of South Sudan. This event is open to the community. All it takes is $12 for registration and one hour of your time to make a difference. The registration fee directly funds the container of food being sent to South Sudanese refugees to provide the fuel they need to build a better tomorrow.

A self-sufficient future is not possible without the knowledge or skills to make it. Once we meet immediate needs, we are able to focus on the long-term vision. There is not much room for educational development for children in the settlements. Schools have individual classrooms with over 180 students and no ability for education past elementary school. There are plenty of candidates for higher education, but no way to access it. The goal is to have a school built before 2019 to create education, economic opportunity and solutions to standing challenges.

Within these settlements, there are competent individuals with no opportunity to use their skills. Using micro-grants, we can construct an entrepreneurship program that allows refugees who have a certain skill set to start a small business. We will also be developing programs to teach people new skills. This will create economic development within the settlements.

There is enough land around the refugee settlements for sufficient farming but the refugees have no way to obtain it. We want to be able to work with our local partners and purchase the land around the settlements. By doing this, we can start ethical sharecropping programs for the refugees to participate in. Farming will improve economic development by adding jobs and providing agriculture so we can continue the fight to end hunger.

The next step begins with you. In order to build a brighter, stronger future we have to work together, for each other. Refugees have the ability to be self-sufficient. They have the skills to thrive in our communities, but it is up to us to look past their burdens and believe in their opportunities.

“It’s up to us to help them with the early stage of success. They can solve their own problems; they just lost everything they had,” said Green. “If we invest in them just a little bit to get things going, what we’ll find 5 years from now, 10 years from now are completely self-sufficient, thriving human beings.”

By choosing opportunity, we choose to lend a hand in creating a better future. With your help, we can broaden the vision for hope by supporting refugees to live a self-sufficient life. Creating real change starts with all of us because we are better together.