31 January 2014
It has been so encouraging to see the enthusiasm of the South Sudanese since they finally became a nation in July 2011.
After decades of war where families were torn apart and the country destroyed, now there was hope for the future.
This new nation went through a steep learning curve, but people were excited. Roads were being tarmacked, new schools constructed and business was booming.
As Country Director, together with my wife Corina, we are part of MAF's South Sudan team and we have had the privilege to experience emotional moments when staff members shared first-hand stories, that after many years they finally had opportunities to reunite with their families.
Even up until December our HR Officer was able to visit his mother after being separated for 13 years, what a great joy! Some staff members moved to Juba with their families from neighbouring countries where they had escaped the years of war.
But now all hope seems to have gone ... after the weeks of fighting their perspective on the future has dramatically changed.
Many of our South Sudanese team members lost relatives in the latest fighting, and stories were shared about the death of brothers and sisters.
Our neighbour in Juba, himself a traumatised ex-soldier, told us last week that he suddenly needs to take care of his four-year-old nephew because the boy’s mother was shot dead recently.
Our Bookings Officer called his mother around Christmas and he told us that during this call his mother was running for her life escaping into the bush because of the heavy fighting in her village; that was the last thing he heard from her until last week.
One staff member found refuge in a United Nations compound; he’s still too afraid to move back to his own home; another staff member fled to his village and remains there waiting for peace. We have provided temporary shared accommodation to some staff members.
Some are from different tribes but these are educated people who reject any tribal issues and happily work and live together with their MAF colleagues.
God has given MAF South Sudan so many resources over the last year.
We have new staff members in the pipeline and plans in place to designate more aircraft to South Sudan, so I would like to encourage your ongoing financial and prayer support, especially now.
Corina will focus on reconciliation projects for our staff members; one of our responsibilities is to show how great God’s healing power is!
As Country Director, I want to take on the challenge to work with partner organisations that are able to support the reconciliation process and restore peace in South Sudan and in people’s hearts.
With thanks for your ongoing support,
Bastiaan de Waal
On Thursday 23 January a ceasefire agreement was signed between the government of South Sudan and the opposition rebels, you can read more about it on the BBC Website.