The last few years have been very trying for the people of South Sudan. This youngest country in Africa is yet to enjoy the fruits of self-rule which probably was the intention of those who initiated and campaigned for its secession. None of the people living in South Sudan has escaped the pains of war, including the missionaries who have worked tirelessly to help improve the quality of life of that country. Last year only one of our great missionary Sr. Veronica SSPS wa murdered when she was returning from taking a patient to the hospital at night. The situation went on to deteriorate more and many South Sudanese had to run for their lives to the neighbouring Uganda. This compelled our confreres and sisters too to vacate the missions and decided also to share the predicaments of the refugees by following them and working with them the refugee camps in Northern Uganda rather than abandoning them.
On Tuesday 12th of September, Fr. Eusebio and Fr. Leo, and a friend of sisters accompanied our SSpS sisters to Lodonga, Arua as the sisters were moving to Lodonga Northern Uganda, in view of establishing a community to serve the refugees from South Sudan. Our first stop was at Eldoret where SVD confreres in Holy Spirit parish, Langas welcomed us warmly, accommodated us and treated us with ‘nyama choma’.
on Wednesday 13th we left as early as 5 am and arrived at Malaba border where we cleared with customs of Kenya and Uganda and hit the road to Gulu. We had a quick-lunch at Lira town and proceeded toward Gulu again. Upon arriving Gulu town, we took the road to Adjumani. On the way we had a flat tyre which delayed us to reach on time for the scheduled ferry to cross the White Nile river before 6 pm. So we accommodated ourselves at the Catholic Pastoral Centre, at Adjumani. Next day, 14th, early morning we left for Adjumani ferry station and crossed the Nile and travelled for another 25 kilometers. We arrived at Lodonga, where we were warmly welcomed with some cooled drink by our confreres Fr. Francis, SVD and Bro. Vincentius SVD. It was a great missionary trip to Lodonga. On arriving to Arua we were greeted by the vast settlement of South Sudanese refugees in big numbers. On Friday the 15th, Fr. Sebio, and I left for Kampala to visit our SVD confreres, the Papal nuncio, Arch Bishop Micheal Blum. We had a pleasant stay and the very next morning we left for Nairobi and arrived home safe and sound.
We continue to pray and encourage our brothers and sisters serving the people of South Sudan taking refuge in Uganda.
Fr. Leo Fernando, SVD