Good news from South Sudan

As the crisis in South Sudan continues, it's encouraging that our work there is making a real difference to the lives of people affected by leprosy.

Lawrence Modi stands outside his new sanitation facilities

In 2013, we launched an emergency appeal in order to highlight the difficulties faced by people affected by leprosy living in South Sudan. Shortly afterwards, violence erupted in the country and its residents faced new dangers. This month, we have been encouraged by the latest report from Country Leader Yousif Deng, telling us about the progress on one of our projects there and catching up with some of the people we met last year.

In May 2013, we visited two leprosy villages in South Sudan – Luri Rokwe and Malek – and were deeply affected by the situation of people with leprosy living in extreme poverty. Although we met many people who were keen to work together on improving life for their communities, they faced many barriers to doing so. We spent time planning projects that would address issues of hygiene and sanitation, lack of access to education and lack of sustainable livelihoods such as agriculture and fishing. Unfortunately, the civil conflict that erupted in December 2013 meant these projects were delayed in starting as both communities were forced to flee their homes.

Thankfully, as fighting the in their region subsided, residents of Luri Rokwe were able to return home, although most residents of Malek are still displaced and living in refugee camps. With the Luri Rowke community project now underway, residents have been benefiting from advocacy meetings, improved access to clean water, and crucially, new sanitation facilities. 20 households now have new latrines and showers.

In 2013 we met village chief Charles Duba. “We desperately need toilets to avoid the embarrassment of defecating in public and for health reasons. This is particularly important for people with a disability and for women and children,” he told us.

Charles is one of those people fortunate enough to have had his new latrine built. “This is a great change in my life and I have never dreamed that I would have something like this in my home. I thank TLM very much and those who support us,” he said.

We also met Lawrence Modi, one of the village’s sub-chiefs. Lawrence is another one of the people benefiting from better sanitation facilities and says he is thankful for his new latrine and for the fact he can now shower as often as he needs to.

In addition to the new showers and latrines being built, residents have attended an awareness-raising session about the rights of people with disabilities (above). They have also had training on health and hygiene awareness.

A sanitation committee has been set up, with members being responsible for the village’s water points and making sure they are in good working order. They will also act as a knowledge base for the community on sanitation and hygiene issues and have been learning about water pump mechanics and maintenance.

As we continue to pray for all those affected by South Sudan's humanitarian crisis, we're encouraged by the fact that the residents of Luri Rokwe are seeing their lives transformed and have hope for the future.

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