Sunday, August 4, 2013

The city of Yei, South Sudan

CLIS (Christian Leadership Institute of South Sudan) a ministry of ALARM, in Yei, South Sudan

Oh the city of Yei South Sudan, where the dragon flies locally known as “glow” cascade the dark evening grass. The Teak trees weave through every compound, the mango trees freely grow,  the cool of the morning, evening and the perfect weather of the afternoon, makes Yei a city to come to.
The natural beauty of this town cannot be compared with the people you meet. What first grabs your attention are the many schools in the city. The school uniforms make up  a rainbow of color, from the orange to the blues, to purples and brown. It is obvious that education is important over here. I had to ask why so many schools in a land that has been deprived of education for so many years. Apparently Yei, even during the war was a place where the Christian ministries called home, many NGOs also found Yei to be relatively safer than most of the country during the war. So they came with the faith of the most High God and in the process created schools which are a hallmark in Yei in this young country. To put it in perspective, a teacher training school today was recognized to have graduated the best batch of students this year compared to over 35 schools in South Sudan and Uganda.

The children in Yei, South Sudan play soccer despite not having shoes

Another love in Yei is the love for soccer which they call "football". Today is Friday and the primary school is having a competition game, the stadium is full and the atmosphere is loud with cheers from the crowd and cheerleaders on the sidelines. These cheerleaders are different, their songs are gospel songs, songs praising God as they cheer their teams on. This of course made me smile.

Women helped by ALARM thru' Microfinance
The market are lined with vegetables, tomatoes, onions and spices which are beyond me. The dried fish gets your attention and the butchers line up in their own section with unrefrigerated stalls. The bakery section has women selling fresh bread made from their homes, with a local kind of thin dough which I have come to like so much called “kisira”. It reminds me of the delicious Ethiopian meal called “ngiyra” minus all the sauce and herbs. The lemons are large and the pineapples are ripe on the tables. Then there were the avocadoes…never seen avocadoes so big in my life and that is saying a lot. They taste better than they look, they would be perfect in a blender with ice to make that perfect shake. One thing that took me by surprise in the market was how relatively civil everyone was, I am used to hearing in our local market in Cameroon the jingles of the over enthusiastic vendor, “Fresh fish fresh! Fresh fish, come here madame for your fresh fish!”, while another person with a tray of dried fish comes unsolicited, standing too close for comfort to show you their pan of dried fish. The Cameroon market is a melody of noises which to the “newbee” might be scary…I hear china markets are much the same way. Well none of that was found in this Yei market.

The people of Yei have another love which is the radio…well I might say it is common to most of south Sudan. However the station that heralds the airwaves is the Christian radio station 99.9 Spirit FM. The ALARM administrator lives on the lovely compounds which is also home to an amazing preschool, I call them, “the blue checkered kids”, too adorable I wish you could see them…well I managed to sneak a shot of three of them as they climbed unto a motor bike, which is called here “border Border”…why? that is another story.

The nursery School "Blue checkered kids"
As we visited the compound we were met by the operations manager Robert Bosco and another journalist trainer called Anna from Holland. Our conversation was filled with talks about South Sudan from a Hollandais perspective, which was full of laughter, then we shared her church horror stories and then explored the power of journalism, media and her commitment to train others in radio stations across this country…not too sure how many there are. Bosco took me to their small trailer which they have used since during the war. It was a smaller container box, which he says could withstand bullet shots and any adverse weather. I believed him, they have been there even when the country was in war.
Levi, ALARM Director of Christian Institute of South Sudan (CLIS), preaching at Anglican church in Yei.
Yei also is predominantly Christian and on Sunday morning, I realized that the popular service is the 7:30am...who would have thought. It has just rained this Sunday, the sky is overcast, yet there is still a praise in my soul. Praise to our God who is perfect and beautiful to make nature so amazingly beautiful and people unique from one place to the next. Oh who is like you our God, who can truly compare to you. As the Psalmist says in Ps 19:1-2
The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship.
Day after day they continue to speak, Night after night, they make Him known.
They speak without a sound and word. Their voice is never heard.
Yet their message has gone throughout the earth and their words to all the world.
May the delight of your goodness comfort our souls today, our God and redeemer, Amen. Until next time...Read, share and be comforted.





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