Jacob in transit to South Sudan.The next steps in Africa Sunrise Communities’ school-building project are underway.  Executive Director Jacob Guot will arrive in South Sudan in a day or two. He will spend two weeks completing necessary steps for construction to begin. “I am filled with hope and also gratitude to our members and supporters,” said Guot as he prepared for his trip.It is the rainy season in South Sudan right now, so construction work is not feasible.  But Jacob will take care of advance planning activities such as:

Board Vice-President Gabriel Achai explains, “These steps do not sound dramatic and Jacob will not return with photographs of new walls, but this is an important part of building a school.”Village elders meeting during Jacob's visit.As a non-profit, ASC will partner with the local government in Bor Town and community groups, just like it partners with churches and individuals in America for support. “These partnerships are our strength, and a key to our success,” said ASC Board member Judy Metcalf.We wish Jacob Godspeed on this trip and look forward to further updates upon his return. __________________________________________Follow us on Facebook and Twitter (@africa_sunrise).

Boy in Bor shining shoes

Boy in Bor shining shoes

Shoeshine boy in Bor.

Shoeshine boy in Bor.

We heard about the shoeshine boy in Bor in one of Jacob’s accounts of his trip there last January. This enterprising youngster is one of Africa Sunrise’s prospective students, insofar as he has expressed an interest in being in school but said his parents cannot afford to send him to school right now.This is not surprising.  UNICEF estimates that in 2016 as many as 70% of children in South Sudan are not in school. The circumstances causing this problem have only gotten worse.  The issues include lack of schools, lack of pay and training for school teachers, and parents who do not have the ability to pay school fees.  South Sudan faces many problems as a young country, but there is a great risk that a whole generation of South Sudanese children will miss receiving a proper education.  This can only lead to longer term economic stagnation, unrest, and dependence on the international community. Will you help us build a school for “the shoeshine boy” and the next generation of leaders in South Sudan?

Jacob, Africa Sunrise Communities’ Executive Director, has told this story before, but it is a good one to reflect upon again:

On January 22 I was walking along a road in the town of Bor, Jonglei State–my home state. I saw two boys selling water they had collected from the Nile River. I asked them how long they had been doing this business and if they went to school. They told me they didn’t go to school because they had no parents and nothing to eat. They were not working for money–just for food. When I asked how I can pray for them, they said, “Pray that the donkey doesn’t die. Pray that the owner of this donkey doesn’t fire us. If he does, we will have no food.”  I did pray, not just that they would keep their meager job, but that God would provide them and others like them the opportunity to live a full and happy life.

Boys with donkey cart in Bor Town. They are going to pick up water to deliver to customers.Prayer is an important part of our Christian faith, but God has given us the ability to make our own decisions and with His help we find solutions to our problems in prayer.  Mark (2:4 NIRV) tells us that one time some friends brought a crippled man to see Jesus, but so many people were there, “. . . they could not get him close to Jesus because of the crowd. So, they made a hole by digging through the roof above Jesus. Then they lowered the man through it on a mat.The friends of the crippled man show us another way to not lose heart, and to know God through our creativity as well as our persistence. Consider the effort these men made for their crippled friend! They carried him to the meeting place. The lifted him to the roof. They dug through the straw and thatch on the roof.  Then they lowered their friend the floor of the building. What rejoicing there must have been among these men, when Jesus healed their friend?The boys with the donkey are working hard to make a life for themselves even though they really shouldClose-up of boys with donkey in school.  They need some help finding other solutions to their life problems. We have prayed for them, but we can use your help to help them!You could say that Africa Sunrise Communities is like the cripple who needed friends to bring him to Jesus. We need friends to bring our mission to new generation of South Sudan. Help us with a prayer. But also help us by spreading the word of our work and making a donation to support our work._________________________________________________________Follow us on Facebook and Twitter (@africa_sunrise). 

In their first meeting of 2018, the Africa Sunrise Communities (ASC) Board of Directors welcomed new members and approved conceptual plans for a new school in Bor, South Sudan. The school will be built on land recently acquired by ASC on the “Airport Road” in Bor.  ASC announced their land acquisition on this page in April of this year, hereAt their meeting on May 19th, the Board:

Images of Akechkuai Living Hope School from ASC Board meeting.In other business, the Board welcomed new members and elected officers.  The current Board consists of:

Executive Director Jacob Guot was made an ex officio member of the board, in anticipation of his moving to paid staff status later this year.At the close of the meeting, Kent Kroehler remarked upon “how honored and humbled my wife and I are to be recognized by ASC by naming a building for us. Our friendship with Jacob Guot is truly a remarkable friendship and we are excited to continue our journey with him and the people of South Sudan.”Board Vice-President and ‘Lost Boy’ Gabriel Kwai also noted that the naming of the school project for Akechkuai is significant for the community.  He explained that Akechkuai was one of the first men in South Sudan to receive a school education and fought tirelessly for the independence of this young country, although he did not live to see Independence Day in 2011.  “He is an inspiration to the youth of our country,” Gabriel said, “and naming our school for him will be an inspiration to the students who study there.”Updates on the school project and other Africa Sunrise projects will appear here regularly.  To support our work with a financial contribution, go here.  To get involved in other ways, contact us here._________________________________________________________Follow us on Facebook and Twitter (@africa_sunrise). 

Bior. A 9 year-old boy in Bor town, Jonglei State, South Sudan.This is Bior. He is 9 years old and lives in Bor, Jonglei State, South Sudan. He is a busy and active youngster who spends time with his cousin, Kuai, and enjoys playing card games.Five years ago he was injured during a rebel attack in South Sudan. His family had been struggling to provide good health care for Bior, and wishing they could afford to send him to school. For the last year, a supporter of Africa Sunrise Communities has been sponsoring Bior’s education with a monthly stipend for his school fees.“It is a great gift,” says Jacob Guot, Executive Director of Africa Sunrise. “This is the generosity and love we see so frequently from ASC supporters. I enjoyed visiting Bior this past January and am happy to report he is a positive young man and applying himself to his studies.” Jacob noted, however, that it is hard for Bior to fully understand why he is different from his classmates, and where his leg has gone.Jacob reports that Bior’s mother, too, is depressed and struggling to come to terms with her son’s injury and disability. The range of medical support, counseling, and occupational training in Bor is very limited at this time.  While the city is calm and day-to-day business occurs, South Sudan as a nation is still under threat from intertribal fighting and civil strife. And, it is a country where nobody has escaped the past twenty years of conflict without some injury or loss.Having Bior in school is a great first step, but he would benefit from better medical care and a more stable lifestyle in Uganda or Kenya. Until Africa Sunrise Communities can complete its school and offer professional support services to its students, raising funds to sponsor students in boarding schools outside of South Sudan is the next best option.Bior with Jacob, January 2018.Supporters looking for a special project to undertake, beyond the broader fundraising for our new school, please contact Jacob Guot to discuss how you can help Bior and a few other special needs children in Bor._________________________________________________________Follow us on Facebook and Twitter (@africa_sunrise).

This is one of three blogs in a series, sharing highlights of my trip to South Sudan in January 2018, Part 1: Fortune, Part 2: Family, and Part 3: Future. Thank you for sharing this journey with me!  ~JacobThe third group who received me, perhaps the most important, were the children.On January 13, I was in Juba, the capital city of South Sudan. In the evening, I went with my cousins to a street coffee shop. As we were waiting to order our coffee, a little boy came and asked me very gently, “I shine your shoes?” I asked him how much he wanted us to pay. He said, 25 South Sudanese pounds for each of you. That’s about 25 cents US. I said, “OK.” My cousins and I, nine people in total, took off our shoes.Boy in Bor shining shoes.While he was shining our shoes, I had a chance to ask about his life.  “Do you go to school?” I asked. “No,” he said, “my parents have no money for school fees.”I offered to give him and his sister (pictured behind him) a gift of $50.  He looked frightened and said, “Look, if I take this money it will be too dangerous for me.  Someone might rob me or beat me to death for the money. Besides, it will soon run out and I will be back in the same place I am now.”“So how can I help you?” I asked.“Give us a school,” he said.  “Collect all of us kids living in the street, begging for a living, and teach us how to make a living.”  My cousins and I all wept when we heard this boys request, but his message was clear to us.###On January 22 I was walking along a road in the town of Bor, Jonglei State–my home state. I saw two boys selling water they had collected from the Nile River. I asked them how long they had been doing this business and if they went to school. They told me they didn’t go to school because they had no parents and nothing to eat. They were not working for money–just for food. When I asked how I can pray for them, they said, “Pray that the owner of this donkey doesn’t fire us. If he does, we will have no food.”  I did pray, not just that they would keep their meager job, but that God would provide them and others like them the opportunity to live a full and happy life.Boy delivering water from a donkey cart.These two experiences reaffirmed in me a belief that building a school in Bor is a critical need for our community’s future.  I hope these children’s stories underscore that need to you, as well.  Since my return to the United States, we are making progress in our plans to build a school for these children in Bor.  See early pictures of the land Africa Sunrise Communities has secured here. But we can use your help! To contribute to the building fund, make a donation here.Check back often for updates, and if you missed the beginning of this story, start with this blog post: January Trip Part 1: Fortune._________________________________________________________You can also follow these posts on Facebook and on Twitter (@africa_sunrise).

As you may recall from previous posts (January Trip — Part One — Fortune), Africa Sunrise Communities has acquired land in Bor, Jonglei State, South Sudan.  We have some early photographs of the land to share today. There will be a few more images, of the cleared land, to share in the next few days.The water well on ASC land in Bor, Jonglei State, South Sudan.This is a parcel of about 2.5 acres on Airport Road, between the center of Bor town and the local airport.  This is a growth area for the community, as businesses build along this corridor where visitors and business people travel to and from the airport.The water well and abandoned buildings in these pictures were left behind by a previous owner. He was not able to develop the property successfully. With your help, we have faith that our efforts will be more fruitful! In fact, we have a deadline, since our agreement with the local government is that we will improve the land before the end of the year (December 2018). The water well on ASC land in Bor, Jonglei State, South Sudan. Abandoned building in background.The local government is allocating this land to Africa Sunrise Communities as the community’s contribution to our new school. We are grateful for their generosity and we are working hard to fulfill our part of the bargain.We also owe a debt of gratitude to Heart of Africa, a US-based foundation that is providing financial and logistical support to Christian leaders in Africa who are undertaking projects to build their communities.  You can learn more about their work on their website, link above.John Lual Nyok, cousin of Jacob Guot.Another asset in the early phases of work is Jacob Guot’s cousin, John Lual Nyok, who is clearing the land, putting up fence, and arranging for a sign to be erected. Thank you, John Lual!Back in the U.S., Jacob has engaged an architect who has already completed some preliminary plans for school buildings. When these plans have been approved and are ready for publication, we will share them with you.Until then, watch this space for photos of the cleared land, and consider supporting our work in South Sudan with a contribution on our Get Involved page. ________________________________You can also follow these posts on Facebook and on Twitter (@africa_sunrise). 

UPDATE:Here are pictures of the same land shown above, after it has been cleared.  We are rushing to complete architectural drawings and hire a contractor to begin work on the school!  How can you support us?  See our Get Involved page.Future site of school in Bor, Jonglei State, South Sudan. Facing west.Future site of school in Bor, Jonglei State, South Sudan. Facing west.

Fighting continues in South Sudan, which over the past 3 years has seen more than 1 million of its people fleeing the country, according to the United Nations refugee agency. Over 185,000 have fled since July alone. This does not include the 1.6 million of its citizens who are displaced within the country, having fled their homes due to the violence. These figures mean that 20% of South Sudan’s population, or 1 in 5 of its citizens, are counted as refugees.refuge1Many of these refugees have fled the South Sudanese capital city of Juba, which is in the south of the country. Over one-third of these went south to Uganda, but other neighboring African countries have also taken in hundreds of thousands of these refugees.The fighting began in December of 2013, when President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Machar, the most powerful members of their respective Dinka and Nuer ethnic groups, struggled for control of their country. Machar was eventually forced out and replaced by another Vice President, but Machar does not recognize this change in leadership, and so the bloodshed continues, between and even within ethnic groups. A cease-fire instituted in August 2015 was soon broken.A Worsening SituationOne of the leaders in the refugee camps has written to Jacob to report that the camps at Kirangdongo and Yumba have been closed. Food shortages are severe; lack of leadership is hindering food rations from getting to those who need them most.sudanese-flagMany of those fleeing the violence are children who are alone. Their parents have been either killed or wounded and left behind as the children ran for their lives, or the families became separated in the confusion. This was the same situation in which Jacob Guot, founder of Africa Sunrise Communities, found himself when he became one of the “Lost Boys” of South Sudan, in earlier fighting. At the age of 7, he was forced to flee his village for his life and wander for thousands of miles over several years, before ending up in a Ugandan refugee camp. It was from there that he was brought to the United States, where he has since become an American citizen and obtained an education.Jacob is now working to raise funds for his organization to help with the plight of his fellow South Sudanese refugees in a particular refugee camp in Uganda. He is himself helping to support several children with funds to pay for education and school fees. His larger goal for Africa Sunrise Communities is for him to return to the Ugandan refugee camp and set up schools there for the children.donate-button-imagePlease join in helping him to fulfill this goal. Your gifts are tax-deductible, as Africa Sunrise Communities is a recognized 501(c)(3) organization. Please visit the “Get Involved” section of this website to give.Blessings,President and Founder,Jacob Guot