This is one of three blogs in a series, sharing highlights of my trip to South Sudan in January 2018. The series includes Part 1: Fortune; Part 2: Family; and Part 3: Future. Thank you for sharing this journey with me!  ~JacobPicture of Jacob outside the Easy Hotel Kenya.Like Nehemiah in the Old Testament, the Lord placed a burning desire in my heart to help the country I left as a child.  In January, I returned to Bor, the main town in my home state, to conduct an assessment of the needs—just like Nehemiah did a secret survey of the broken-down walls of his beloved city, Jerusalem. (more…)

Purpose for the TripThe purpose for this trip was to view firsthand the situation in Kiryandongo Refugee Camp in the Bweyale region of western Uganda, where some 53,000 South Sudanese refugees are living. These people have fled the warfare resulting from the incursion of Muslim militia fighters from Sudan in the north, but they are also running away from intertribal warfare within South Sudan itself. The y have found their way over the border into Uganda, where the United Nations and the Ugandan government have set up 13 camps like Kiryandongo, which is the largest one.When I began organizing Africa Sunrise Communities and trying to decide what my focus should be in working with my own people, I had thought that my mission was to return to Uganda to work within this refugee camp in setting up an elementary school, teaching the children, and, through them, begin to reach their parents with Christ’s message of peace and reconciliation. However, this trip showed me that there are already educational opportunities available for children in the camp.Conditions Within the Camp Several organizations are working within the camp. These include the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, International Rescue Committee, Windle Trust International, and several others.This Kiryandongo refugee settlement is on 27 square miles and contains a total of 18 “clusters.” Clusters are structured and designed to ease management of people and are basically smaller groups of people, families living together with an elected leader and supportive community structures.There is now much more tribal diversification in the camp than what I found when I was there last in 2014, though the Dinka and the Nuer tribes are still the largest groups.Living conditions are very primitive, with no running water or electricity. Homes are mostly mud huts. There are many water wells available, so water does not seem to be in short supply.There are schools, all of which charge at least a minimal tuition fee, even if they are called “free” schools. All children must purchase uniforms to attend school. School fees for children are typically about $12 tuition per child per month. One uniform costs around $9.School materials, such as chalkboards, textbooks, exercise books, etc., are procured by the United Nations. Because of all the variety of dialects spoken within the camp, the schools are taught in English. Most of the orphan children are out of school, as they have no one to pay their tuition and fees and to buy them uniforms.Orphans Will Become My New FocusI learned that the one group that is not being served well in the camp is that of young orphans. These boys and girls have lost their families to war and have fled alone to the refugee camp, much as I did at the age of 7 when war first broke out between Sudan and South Sudan. While they may be assigned in the camp to other families in which to be raised, the truth is that many of these children end up abandoned and having to fend for themselves. I am beginning to see that my focus should be on these children.From what I could find out, the official number of orphan children is 1,800 within the camp, but the chances are good that there are many more not included in this official count.These children are in need of a place of their own – a safe place to sleep, where they can be taken care of, with food available, with the means to go to school, and a place to come back to after school. Group homes seem to me to be the best way to care for the children. A group home would house 10-12 young children, ages about 4-10. Setting up such a group home will involve renting a dwelling within the camp and hiring a woman or a couple to be houseparents to see to the needs of the children.Where Do I Go From Here?It is necessary for me to set up a local non-government organization (NGO) with a different name, as my American-based Africa Sunrise Communities will not be recognized in Uganda. My local Ugandan organization’s name will be “Rising Hope Africa.” One of the reasons for my trip to Uganda was to begin the process of setting up this organization and registering it with the Ugandan authorities. The registration process is complicated by the fact that I am not a Ugandan citizen. I am in the process of filling out the registration forms and sending them back to Kampala, the capital of Uganda. Each step in this process calls for the payment of fees, such as the $150 registration fee, which I must send back with the papers.When Rising Hope Africa is registered in Uganda, I will have to set up a physical office in Kampala, which is about 3 hours away from the camp. This means renting office space there. The office will need to be staffed, at last minimally. This demonstrates to the Ugandan government that my intentions are to stay in Uganda and to work with government and other officials within the refugee camp. I will be partnering in every way possible with the Ugandan government and the United Nations and other NGOs working there.How You Can Help I am currently raising support to enable my family and myself to relocate to East Africa. As my family will not be living within the refugee camp themselves, I must set up a home for them, in Uganda or in Kenya, and send my children to school. I myself will also not be living in the refugee camp, but must find lodging nearby.It will cost $100,000 for the first year. This amount includes travel to Uganda, renting and setting up a home there, getting the children settled in school, finding a place for me to live, setting up an office in Kampala, renting and setting up an orphan group home in the refugee camp, hiring houseparents, in-country transportation costs, my salary, and ministry expenses. After that, my personal expenses will be $50,000 per year (including salary, living expenses, transportation, fees, etc.,) and the cost for running one group home will be $30,000 per year. Africa Sunrise Communities needs partners who will come alongside and commit to this ministry. We need you to pledge to give regularly (monthly, quarterly, or yearly) at a level that you can give to sustain this work. If one hundred supporters would pledge to give $100 a month, that would provide funds for me to go back to East Africa and to begin the ministry to which God has called me. Will you partner with me to help the orphan South Sudanese refugee children in Kiryandongo Camp? Will you support me in my mission to bring hope, education, and the Good News of Jesus Christ to my people?  May God bless you as you consider partnering with me in this work.Jacob Guot, Executive Director and Founder

On the weekend of July 23-24, 2016, Jacob Guot visited the First United Methodist Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He was accompanied by his whole family – his wife, Rebecca, his son Biar (7), his daughter Angieth (6), and his son Ayiei (nearly 3). Pastor Joe DiPaolo and the congregation of the church welcomed the Guot family warmly and gave them the opportunity to tell their story.Jacob was privileged to preach in the three Sunday morning services and the church held a reception for the family after the services. Jacob also visited some individual members of the congregation and was invited to meet with the Missions Committee of the church.A reception was held for the Guot family after the services and Jacob presented a recognition certificate to Pastor Joe DiPaolo for the church. Pictured is Rev. Jacob Guot with FUMC Pastor Joe DiPaolo with the congregation during the reception.Jacob told the story of his being forced to flee for his life as a 7-year-old boy. Through God’s hand of protection upon him, he grew up in a refugee camp and then was brought to the United States as one of South Sudan’s “lost boys” in 2001. He subsequently became an American citizen, learned English, and obtained an education. With his recent graduation from Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky, Jacob is now going to work to provide for his family.But his heart for South Sudan has led him to establish his non-profit organization, Africa Sunrise Communities, through which he is endeavoring to raise enough funds to take him and his family to Uganda to work inside a large South Sudanese refugee camp there. Jacob wants to give the children of the camp an education to give them hope for their own lives and to give his country of South Sudan a future.Will you help Jacob to bring hope and reconciliation to South Sudanese refugee children in Uganda? Please give generously to this effort. All gifts are tax-deductible. Yours truly,ASC Founder and President,Jacob Guot

As President of Africa Sunrise Communities, I thank you for your ongoing prayers and support for the crisis situation in South Sudan. We have been notified that hundreds of thousands of civilians are fleeing the cities of Jalle Payam and Maar as a result of another heavy attack from the rebels. Shortly after we released the first newsletter, we learned that rebels attacked a passenger bus on the Juba-Nimule road In the South Sudan. Many passengers fled for their lives and hid in the bush to escape further violence. According to South Sudan Times, “…at least five people were reportedly killed.” passengers that survived and were able to flee were fortunate, but now they have the tough choice to travel back to Juba or proceed to Uganda. Even though the rebel situation appears to be under control, there is no way to know when another attack will happen.These continued attacks serve as a painful reminder of the uncertain situation in South Sudan. As you will recall from a few weeks back, my mother-in-law was killed in a similar rebel attack and four of my nieces and nephews were displaced. We at Africa Sunrise Communities have been raising money to transport these children to safety in a Ugandan Refugee Camp and provide food and school for them going forward. So far, out of the $2900 needed to get them to safety, we have raised $1,093. I spoke with people in the area last night and the situation is still very dangerous for the children. We’re looking to get them out of the village as soon as possible.As I reflect on these latest events, the Lord spoke to me through the following Scripture: My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you… (Galatians 4:19) I want to share with you my motivation and encouragement for Africa Sunrise Communities, as I feel that God has given me the task and burden to bring this ministry to realization. I feel that it is my responsibility to open the world’s eyes to the situation in my home country, and the joys and pains of “birth” that are mine to bear as I see this ministry take off. God has seen me through many difficulties and I trust He will provide for this ministry. However, I cannot do this alone—I need your support through these challenges as well as praise to our Lord in times of rejoicing. During this time of pain and suffering, I know that the Lord is restoring and I look forward to its fruition.Thank you for your continued prayers and support,Rev. Jacob Thon GuotPresident and Founder 

As the world looked on the November 13 Paris attacks in horror, another horror was occurring in South Sudan. Rebel forces swept through Maar Village killing women, children, and the elderly without heed. ASC’s President, Jacob Thon Guot lost 23 family members and another 80 people in the village were wounded. Thousands of people have fled the area. This comes after attacks in late October in which Guot lost two family members and one of Paul Deng’s relatives was injured. These incidents have forced many women and children to escape to islands in the swamps where sickness is rampant without medicine or protection from mosquitos. With the constant danger, schools have been shut down, aid organizations are forced to put a pause on their efforts, and peace seems farther away than ever.Civilians are wedged in between rebels, government forces, factions, and tribes all fighting for control. This is the very type of thing Africa Sunrise Communities wishes to stop. Attacks like this are happening every day and there is no place of safety for those caught in the crossfire. It is with heavy heart that we report that Jacob Guot’s mother-in-law was killed in the most recent attacks. She had returned to South Sudan with four of her grandchildren to attend the memorial service of her son who had been killed in 2014. Guot and his wife, Rebecca are devastated from the loss and are determined to protect their four nieces and nephews who managed to escape.Rebecca’s 19-year-old brother, Mobior Deng Majok has been taking care of the children since the incident. The memorial they were set to attend was for the father of two of the children. The father of the other two was badly wounded in the same attack and unable to care for the children either. The mothers are desperate to keep their children safe and that’s where ASC comes in. We ask you to partner with us in our efforts to transport the children to safety. With your help, they will be relocated to Uganda Refugee Camp where our supporters and Rebecca’s sister will be able to take care of them.God’s Word tells us that in this world we will have trouble. We know that to be true but we are still saddened as we try to survive in this imperfect world. The past few weeks have only made us more aware of the frailty of our position.Africa Sunrise Communities is trusting God’s providence in this situation. We are thankful for your support and generosity. We ask you to pray with us that God will get the four children to safety and that he will provide financially for their trip to Uganda. For our organization, we request prayer that God will bless our work and guide us in the steps to take. Finally, for South Sudan, we pray that God will show his compassion and grace in allowing peace to come to the war-torn land.We have looked into the situation of the four children and have created a plan to get them to safety. We are looking to raise $2,900 to transport the four children and one adult to the Uganda Refugee Camp and provide for their immediate needs. This includes:

  1. $300 for three days of food and a boat trip from their village to the city of Bor.
  2. $250 for food and lodging while awaiting a flight (2-3 days).
  3. $650 for airfare from Bor to the capital city of Juba, including food and lodging.
  4. $400 for bus travel, lodging, and food for the trip from Juba into Uganda.
  5. $500 for entrance visas into Uganda
  6. $400 for the basic provisions for the children including beds, sheets, and clothes at the refugee camp in Uganda.
  7. $400 for food while they are waiting to get food rations cards in the refugee camp. This can take anywhere from one to three months.

This cost has risen in the past couple years due to increasing safety concerns with road travel. We will be using air travel, as it is usually safer than travelling on roads.The $2,900 is only to get the children to the refugee camp and provide for their urgent needs. This does not cover their ongoing needs. The most important thing for these children is to get an education. This offers hope for the future and is vitally important in their lives. Education is the most important catalyst for peace in the coming years. The cost for each child for a semester is $300. With three semesters in a year, we need $3,600 to send all four children to school for one year.We’re asking you to partner with us as we seek the wellbeing of these children. Africa Sunrise Communities is dedicated to bringing a message of restoration. Join us in creating safety and hope for these children and for the whole of Africa.Thank you for your continued prayers and support,Rev. Jacob Thon GuotPresident and Founder