In South Sudan, only 16% of women and girls are literate, but thanks to a new ARDF-funded project female students in the Anglican Diocese of Aweil and Abyei will receive a quality Christian education and hope for a better future.
A Nation in Crisis:
South Sudan suffers from the world’s worst literacy rate*, and by far the highest maternal mortality rate of any nation.†Ongoing violence has destroyed the educational infrastructure, and children—especially girls—desperately need safe places to study and find hope for a better life. In many places, schools simply do not exist, teachers are rare, and textbooks are too expensive for students to afford.
A New Anglican School Brings Hope:
However, local Anglican churches are getting involved on a grass-roots level in South Sudan to make sure that young women can receive an education and gain the skills necessary to earn an income and fight for their property and inheritance rights.
In the Diocese of Aweil and Abyei, local leaders came up with a bold plan to construct a Christian secondary school for girls that can accommodate 320 students and house at least 40. Funding the project locally was impossible, so the Diocese approached ARDF and shared their simple vision with us: the school will be a place of safety and discipleship where girls can learn about God’s love as they study and acquire valuable vocational skills. Learn more about this project.
We were delighted to partner with the Diocese of Aweil and Abyei, and in July we were even more thrilled to learn about the incredible progress they have already made. Despite ongoing civil war and heavy rain, the classroom and office walls are up, and construction of the dormitory is underway!
Classrooms and offices under construction with bricks made on-site.
Classrooms and offices nearing completion, 2014 July.
Local Anglican Connection:
A portion of the funding for this project came from a local team of young Anglicans from The Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh who ran the Pittsburgh Marathon in order to raise money for the school. Their involvement was a beautiful example of the Body of Christ working across national boundaries and continents despite oppression and brokenness, reminding us that we are part of a vibrant Global Anglican Communion that boasts 85 million members worldwide.
A group from St. Stephens Anglican Church who ran the Pittsburgh Marathon in May to raise money for the new school.
ARDF and the Global Body of Christ:
Most of us think of the Church primarily in terms of its local expression in a parish, diocese, or national church. But this project reminds us that Christ’s Body is much bigger than that.
The connection that we in North America have with Anglicans in places like South Sudan is real, and the Gospel sets us free to express that organic connection through mutual giving and receiving similar to what we read about in II Corinthians 8 and 9. The suffering saints in Jerusalem were worlds away from the wealthy believers in Corinth, yet St. Paul still considered it a privilege for them to be connected in Christ through ministries of mercy.
He wrote, “For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God” (9:12). One of the greatest privileges of being involved with ARDF is seeing firsthand how true this Biblical theme remains today.
Our faithful brothers and sisters in South Sudan are deeply encouraged by this partnership and literally give thanks to God on our behalf. We pray that their example of faith and love for their neighbors in the midst of crisis will serve as a powerful example to us as well.
Education Around the World:
In the United States, most of us take our education for granted, and for good reason: literacy rates have remained at 99% since 1970 for both men and women. However, in many parts of the world access to education is only an aspiration:
- 781.2 million people globally cannot read or write–64% are women.
- Of the 58 million children ages 6-11 who cannot attend school each year, more than half live in Sub-Saharan Africa.
- Moreover, in Sub-Saharan Africa, 2/3 of all girls may never attend school.
Imagine what it would be like not to be able to read a good book, or the instructions on your child’s medication–or the Bible. Not having access to education can have terrible consequences for individuals and societies. However, the good news is that education is relatively straightforward to provide, and can have immediate positive effects:
- Every additional year spent in school can increase personal income by 10%.
- In developing countries, educating girls can prevent child-marriage, and death in childbirth.
- The children of educated mothers are fifty percent more likely to survive past the age of 5.
There are few more effective ways to empower the poor and marginalized than to help them pursue their dreams of education and opportunity. Christian education in particular can bring dignity, economic opportunity, and hope in Christ.
*Only 27% of the total population can read and write, but only 16% of women.
†A staggering 2,054 out of every 100,000 live births result in the mother’s death.