Nuns Partner with Aid Agencies to Facilitate Food
Production for Needy in South Sudan
Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (SSH) in South Sudan have partnered with the United Nations development agencies to facilitate food production, reaching out to the deprived in the East-Central African country.
“We have tried to collaborate with the development agencies like the World Food Program (WFP) and FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization). I know WFP is known for giving food to people, but I approached them to facilitate us to produce food, not to provide food,” SHS Superior General, Sr. Dr. Alice Jurugo Drajea told ACI Africa Friday, November 13.
Terming the partnership as a “great collaboration of organizations,” Sr. Alice said, “World Food Program and Food and Agriculture Organization have assisted us by giving us seeds, by giving us tools, giving us items like gumboots, giving us empty bags and transporting produce like sesame from the farm to our house.”
She added, “When I went to the warehouse to collect the seeds from FAO, they even gave us 20 gumboots, 40 hoes and now we are looking forward to them to give us the two-sided hoes for weeding.”
“We have now planted groundnuts, sesame, finger millet, sorghum and a lot of green grams that are ready for picking in the field,” the Ugandan-born who is based in Juba told ACI Africa.
She however regretted that the indigenous people have been reluctant to join the Sisters in their farming initiative saying, “I found the attitude of the people not to do work and that is why we the Sisters come and do it physically.”
“We have been trying to dig physically because there are no people and the tractor cannot come here because of a lot of trees. We have been looking for caterpillars that can come and uproot for us, but found nothing,” Sr. Alice who holds a doctorate in Education told ACI Africa November 13.
She continued, “We want people to know that we Sisters are not set apart in a different world but we are here in touch with them; we can produce food instead of going to the World Food Program asking for food.”
The SSH leader in South Sudan further stated that members of the Religious Order will be distributing the farm produce to those in need, including those in formation and the deprived in society.
“The food we have produced is not for sale because apart from giving it to our formation house, we have communities of Sisters here, some of the communities have elderly Sisters who cannot do much, and so we will be giving some of this food to those communities,” Sr. Alice told ACI Africa.
The Sisters’ decision to engage in farming, which was inspired and supported by the Brothers of St. Martin de Porres stationed on the West Bank of the Nile about 30 kilometers from the capital Juba, to meant to battle food insecurity in South Sudan, the SSH leader told ACI Africa.
The Brothers of St. Martin De Porres offered SSH a five-acre piece of land on temporary basis, Sr. Alice disclosed, adding that the land in Kit area of Rejaf County is highly fertile to produce.
Some of the challenges the Sisters face include transporting their farm produce due to poor roads and the threat posed by animals.
“I was wondering how we would carry (our farm produce) if WFP did not come to help us at this stage of the harvest,” Sr. Alice told ACI Africa and explained, “We are transporting produce away because this area has brown monkeys, they are notorious, and they love our groundnuts, maize and sesame.”
She further explained that “throughout the year 2020 the monkeys did not allow peaceful harvest of maize; they came in big numbers of around 20 and finish the maize completely.”
“The nuns have opted to erect shelters for sesame at their compound in the capital Juba and WFP has provided a truck for transportation to the city,” SHS leader said, and added, “We are very happy with the World Food Program (WFP) that they have responded positively to our request of transporting the field produce to our home in Juba.”
She continued, “We are going to heap the sesame at home in Juba. We have already built the framework to keep it there so that we are sure no any other animal will come for it.”
Looking toward projects for the next farming season, Sr. Alice said, “In 2021, we want a power tiller where we will only be using fuel and dig more than the hand can do.”
“We have a trailer but we don’t have a tractor otherwise we wouldn’t be asking WFP to send us their truck. We could have used our tractor and the trailer,” she said, and continued, “I am hopeful that next year we would be better; this year we have made a lot of mistakes.”
She encouraged South Sudanese to engage in farming saying, “South Sudan is blessed with land; the soil, which is rich and so I encourage everybody to utilize the gift of God.”
“No matter what level or what one is doing we need to produce food. We are capable of producing food and feeding the vulnerable people in our communities,” Sr. Alice told ACI Africa November 13.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa