The Wau factor – our new partner in South Sudan

Excitement abounds as Mary’s Meals has begun feeding in 12 new primary schools in the Wau region of South Sudan. Together, with our new partner MHA (Mary Help Association), another 5,000 children will receive this essential meal every school day.

Back to all stories | Posted on 10/21/21 in News

As an established and trusted organization in the northwest region of South Sudan, MHA has provided the necessary inroads for Mary’s Meals to reach the impoverished children of Wau. We were linked with MHA in one of those ways that we find happens often at Mary’s Meals, through previous connections reuniting again, worlds apart. Two of the Sisters involved in MHA's work in Wau had previously worked in India and came across Mary's Meals through the work of our fantastic partner there, BREAD. Now, MHA has guided and supported the local community to build food stores and train volunteers to cook for the children.

Why are we taking on a new partner?

Mary’s Meals has been supporting children in South Sudan (previously part of Sudan) since 2008, through a long-standing partnership with the Diocese of Rumbek. Although the program is currently providing daily meals for more than 60,000 children, there are still so many more children in urgent need of support.

One of the main benefits of taking on an additional partner in South Sudan is that we’re able to reach children we wouldn't have otherwise been able to feed, in areas where few organizations other than MHA are working. By building on the close relationships MHA has with local communities and schools, we can help ensure the program is delivered consistently so that children can rely on having a nutritious meal every day they attend school.

The volatile conditions in these areas also impact accessibility, safety and reliability of deliveries – it’s not easy getting supplies to those that need it. It’s essential for us to work with experienced local organizations, familiar with the landscape.

Moses Kopurot, of our long-standing partner in the Diocese of Rumbek, visited MHA in recent months to share the Mary’s Meals approach to school feeding and visited some of the schools where we are now feeding. “This program is in an incredibly challenging place. It is so deep into the forest and people are in a terrible situation, eating wild foods to survive. I have never seen people in such a life. The village is so remote – hidden for safety but also now hidden from help. The Sisters have shown great courage in finding these people and working so hard to bring them this food and support in such a difficult challenge. Yet the children are so lively, with energy and space to sing and run. They just want to learn and be children.”

The situation in South Sudan

With significant internal displacement across the whole of the country, South Sudan faces desperate conditions with many of the schools either abandoned or destroyed during the conflict in 2016-2019. The daily challenges are ongoing with some teachers walking more than two hours in each direction to reach the schools to teach. In this unstable, rural environment, people, both young and old, continue to rebuild their lives with the help of MHA.

Education is vital

The key to ensuring a future for South Sudan’s younger generations lies in education, while parents try to provide enough food and shelter to keep their sons and daughters safe. A guaranteed meal at school is truly life-changing for these vulnerable children.