Some quick background – Sudan is a nation divided. Hatred and strife between ethnicities, tribes, and religions brewed for decades before erupting over and over in civil war. In 2005, a peace deal was signed that allowed for a dividing line to be drawn between the northern part of Sudan and the southern part. Northern Sudan is primarily Arab and Muslim; southern Sudan is a mixture of black African tribes and is nominally Christian. Northern Sudan has developed. The south languishes. Northern Sudan still holds the ultimate political power. Southern Sudan is trying to establish infrastructure and gain position to assert itself politically.
In South Sudan, 1 in 8 mothers die in childbirth.
Half of all children born die before the age of 5.
So, many of the toddlers at the children center never had a chance to know their mothers. By God’s grace, they will know the age of 5.
90% of the South Sudanese population earn less than one dollar per day, and yet, because South Sudan lacks an indigenous economy and the infrastructure to develop one, the cost of living here is the second highest in the world, behind Japan.
How do people survive? Subsistence farming and foreign aid.
Only 10% of the South Sudanese population is literate.
In perusing our kids report cards a few days ago, I was amazed at the number of spelling and grammar mistakes made by the teachers. But, in a context where only 10% can read, schools cannot afford to be picky.
The UN names Sudan as the world’s worst failed state, but don’t write that in the local newspaper or – like The Sudan Tribune – you’ll be shut down!
Sudan is labeled a tier 3 nation (the worst ranking) in the 2008 Trafficking in Persons Report, with men, women and children trafficked for everything from forced labor and sexual abuse to child soldiering.
One of the older boys on our compound is quite clumsy with a soccer ball, even when compared to the kids much younger than he. Another boy explained his situation. “When he was younger, the rebels took him to be a soldier. So, he never learned how to play soccer. He’s just learning now.”
Sometimes, it is helpful to put a story beside a statistic.