Sunday, March 18, 2012


KLC team returns early from Malual, South Sudan.

Two team members returned to the states last Tuesday, due to one team member having a flare up of a chronic illness (she's doing fine now, but another team member accompanied her home). Sunday morning after worship in Malual, most of the of the mission team left Malual, about a week ahead of schedule. The team experienced many successes, and several major struggles. One person remains in the Malual area for a few weeks, and several more have 3-6 weeks remaining in the Gambella region visiting with relatives. Everyone is healthy and safe.

Unfortunately, upon beginning our water filtration project, we discovered substantial barriers to success:

First, there is no natural gravel in the area, scarce rocks had to be collected and broken by sledgehammer into appropriate sizes in order to make the concrete and filter media.

Second, and most critical, the water filter concrete forms that we ordered through the technical college in Addis Ababa were defective. The steel was too soft, and we often had to make field repairs, additionally, the insides of the steel molds were rough, which prevented any of the concrete forms constructed being extracted from the mold successfully. We'll go on Friday and ask them to remedy the defects or return our payment.

Finally, the quality of cement mix available is very poor, and the nearest place to buy high quality cement is two-days away by 4x4, and cost-prohibitive for this community.

The team is working this week to remedy the forms, and find a new project for them (we already know two different businesspeople interested in biosand in Ethiopia). We'll regroup in the states to decide what water solution may best fit Malual. In the meantime, we spread the word about boiling water and using sunlight disinfecting (SODIS). We taught them about waterborne parasites (a prevalent one in the area is a worm that attacks the eyes and causes blindness--when we explained that the blindness comes from the water people were much more eager to proactively manage their water quality).

The team did experience several successes. First, “school” for the children was wildly successful. The children were eager to learn, and we held a several-hour class each morning, and a young adults session every evening. We supplied the school with pencils, sharpeners, notebooks, soccer balls and books. We also donated school supplies to schools in Lafto (Ethiopia), Gambella (Ethiopia) and Bethlehem (South Sudan). We donated “pillowcase dresses” and “bandana shorts” provided by generous volunteers and Little Dresses for Africa's large donation of clothing. Malual's pastor, Pastor Steven is eager to continue school, and is well-qualified to do so.

The team also provided some basic medical care to the community in Malaul, and supplied the local clinic with antibiotics, antimalarial medication, reading glasses and wound care supplies.

We decided to drive through from Malual to Addis Ababa for both the experience and for cost effectiveness of the trip. There were some interesting experiences on the way back from buying mangoes and bananas at a road side stand to having one member of our group (Peter) investigated at a check point which at the time was a little scary (upon discovering his US citizenship, the police left him alone). At the end of the first day, a six hour ride, we stopped in Gambella for the night and stayed in yet another guest house that was owned by the deputy Ambassador to South Sudan. It was very warm but quite comfortable. The next day we were on the road again by 10:00 A.M and drove 12 hours and spent the night in Jimma, a bustling metropolis (not even being sarcastic here—this was a big town) where the coffee is grown. We drove another day for about 6 hours and we made Addis Ababa by 4:30 P.M. We are staying the same guest house that the ladies were in before we left and were then comfortably set to spend the rest of the week in Addis. The next day we spent the morning resting from our road trip and the afternoon doing touristy things. The group decided that it would be fun to look at the Ethnic Studies Museum at the University of Addis Ababa and Entoto Mountain, which offers spectacular views of Addis from above.

Today Peter left the team, flying to Juba to meet his family, who he hasn't seen since moving to the states many years ago. Please keep his journey in your prayers, especially as the weather in Juba is even warmer than we experienced in Malual (average afternoon temps were approx 120 F, but a nice breeze off the river kept it from being too oppressive).

Tomorrow morning, we drive two hours to Nasaret, Ethiopia where we'll volunteer with the English Alive academy for the day. We haven't planned the rest of our week, but we're actively looking for volunteer opportunities as well as cultural and historic sites to see.

We feel your prayers surrounding us all, and they have sustained us. Thank you for your continued support--we know that the community of Malual feels it too. Please continue to pray for good health--we've all been much healthier than expected, and pray for those who are staying on to visit relatives in the Gambella region.

Much love from all of us! -- The remaining SSCRP team: Gach, Jane, Jess, Reuben, Judy and Coleen.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Update from Ethiopia- Leaving for South Sudan

Yesterday morning Gach, Bob and Jim got in the land rover and rode with our gear--they will spend two days getting to Gambella to meet us there.

Today we're on the way to Gambella--we'll fly from Addis to Gambella--a quick 90 minute flight, and stay in Gambella for the night getting the rest of our supplies. Tomorrow, we will drive across Savannah 60 miles until we reach the Baro river, which we'll cross by foot or by canoe.

Yesterday, some of the team who was feeling under the weather stayed behind and visited a school, others visited family in the area, and another group went to Debre Laganos in the Oromo region, where we saw a 735 year old graveyard (where anyone can be buried for no charge) as well as a church, the largest monastery in Ethiopia. The 500 monks there live in caves in the cliffs. Since it is lent, many people were camped in the churchyard, where they enjoy one meal a day of beans or chickpeas per day, and then climb (pilgrimage) up to the cliff where the church founder lived and prayed for 29 years--always standing, with spears around him so he wouldn't fall asleep. The cave is considered a miracle, because it constantly weeps water, yet the ceiling and walls are completely dry. Pilgrims may only drink this water during the time they stay at the church for lent, so it is a major effort of going up and down this steep rocky trail for water.  A half-dozen team members climbed to the top to see the cave.  We were in awe of the kind of faith furor that would move people to these practices--often making the entire climb barefoot--leaving bloodied stones along the way.
Later, more climbing, this time down, we were able to observe and cross an arched stone bridge, built by the Portuguese in the 1600s, made from limestone and ostrich shells. This bridge was used by Portuguese traders.
The day before yesterday, we spent at the Merkato shopping "Africa style" which was an overwhelming experience but very effective.

We're eager to share photos, but the connection is slow. A limited list is here:

We are deeply satisfied with our Africa experience, and reminded of a call to prayer for the three team members driving. Please keep them in your prayers, it is a difficult journey.

This will likely be the last "live" update from Africa for a while, as we won't have internet connection in Gambella or Malual, we'll be phoning up to the church as often as we can with updates, and Jen M. will send them out.

Thank you all for your prayers and support.

--Your friends from KLC South Sudan Community Restoration Program