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July 2009 news from John and Poppy, Yei, Southern Sudan
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Dear friends and family,

We have been travelling quite a lot during June and we thought you would be interested to hear something of the places we’ve been to and the work we’ve been doing.

Imagine a place where there is no piped water. To drink water, to wash your clothes and to take a bath, you have to fetch water from a stream, well or borehole many hundreds of metres from your home. You collect the water in 20 litre jerry cans and
it is a common sight to see women carrying jerry cans on their way to or from a borehole. Even children help with this, starting with small jerry cans until they can carry something larger. Some villages still have no borehole.

We visited Undukori where there is a borehole that is broken. Villagers collect water from a stagnant pool (above). It is a village where the mobile clinic will visit and where Poppy hoped to provide a further borehole. She arranged for a water surveyor to search for the best location but when the drillers came they found no water. So all we can do is to mend the existing borehole which we have promised to do as quickly as possible. Meanwhile, the villagers use the contaminated water place to collect water, which they boil and add a chlorine tablet. The Undukori community is also trying to build a three classroom block for the Primary School and the children pictured above are helping to fetch water to make bricks. It’s great to see a community working hard together to replace the old classrooms with something permanent.

During June we spent some days in Juba with the CMS Ireland Regional Mission partner, David Gough. Our days were filled with meetings including one with the State Steering Committee for the Sudan Recovery Fund (SRF). On one day, David and John travelled from Juba to Rokon (about 50 miles) and met with the Bishop and his team to discuss the skills training programme and the village savings and loans scheme that the SRF is funding. While in Rokon, they viewed a two classroom block of a new primary school that was funded by a Trust connected with Durham University. The trust is buying the school desks from Yei Vocational Training College. The Rokon Diocese is very different from Yei and has not enjoyed the level of investment that we have seen here. It’s fascinating to be able to travel to Dioceses beyond Yei and to work with their teams. We now work in four different Dioceses, covering the majority of the state of Central Equatoria, although CMS Ireland has links with another four that we have yet to visit.

John has been involved with supervising school construction for the Diocese of Yei for a couple of years and the funding received from the Basic Services Fund enables two further complete Primary Schools to be constructed. The one in Panyana started on site last week and we hope that the next one in Mukpara will start at the end of September. Both are three hours from Yei, in opposite directions, and so checking the progress on site will be hard. In both locations, the children are either being taught in temporary classrooms or in the open air. More than 100 children have their lessons at this tree in Mukpara and the staff room lacks many modern facilities (right). The need for investment in classrooms, teacher training and books and materials is huge.

We are excited that the mobile clinic, which left Gibraltar in May, will soon arrive in Kampala, where it will be serviced, before coming to Yei. The latest ETA is 11 th July, which is two weeks ahead of schedule. Poppy has arranged for 8 of the clinic staff to have driving lessons at the Yei Vocational Training College so that, when the new clinic service begins, the best drivers can take it turns to drive the vehicle. Five different villages have been selected to receive a once a week visit from the mobile clinic, which will have a nurse, midwife and community health worker on board plus an HIV/AIDS counsellor/tester. The vehicle will carry medicines, vaccines and mosquito nets and the staff will carry out treatments, ante-natal examinations and immunisations. A key role will be health education and to increase the knowledge and ability of traditional birth attendants. A smaller mobile clinic in the form of a Honda motorbike is also on its way from Kampala to Yei and this will be used by some staff from the new PHCC at Lainya to provide a service two days a week to a camp a few miles away occupied by families who have had to leave their homes due to insecurity and risk of attack from the Lords Resistance Army. A borehole will also be provided for this community during the next dry season.

The clinic is Lainya is nearly completed (right) but we still have to fence the site and to determine where the borehole will be drilled. As well as that, there is the equipment to be purchased and staff to be recruited and trained. Poppy plans to work with the Lainya Health Committee in September - November, to set up all the systems to enable the clinic to open properly in the New Year by which time five of the staff will have finished their 9 month training course in Kampala. So in the New Year, Poppy will be a regular visitor to Lainya, helping to establish a high quality service from the new clinic to be known as St Luke’s Primary Health Care Centre.

We plan to return to UK on 27 th July, to stay for nearly 4 weeks then travel to USA for Davey and Erin’s wedding on 29th August. We hope to be back in Yei from 12 th September.

We are so grateful for your prayer support and would list the following as our current prayer requests.

With our love, John and Poppy Spens
Website: www.johnandpoppy.org.uk


Yei contact details:

Address: Yei Vocational Training College, c/o MAF, PO Box 1, Kampala, Uganda.

Telephone: 00 256 477 100907 or 00 256 477 208533.

Email: johnandpoppy@yeivtc.com and poppy.spens@gmx.com




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