Thanks to CHIC 2006 Offerings, Sudan School Is Dedicated

Post a Comment » Written on October 6th, 2009     
Filed under: News
BENTIU, SUDAN (October 6, 2009) – Two concrete school buildings, as well as five additional new classrooms, built with funds from the CHIC 2006 offering for Covenant World Relief were dedicated last Wednesday in a ceremony that included leaders from the Evangelical Covenant Church and the Covenant Church of Sudan.

Teenagers who attended CHIC 2006 made the construction possible at Good Hope Basic School by donating more than $100,000 in a special offering for Covenant World Relief (CWR), which also contributed additional funds to the project.

CWR Director Dave Husby cut the ribbon, and Good Hope students sang songs as part of the ceremony that lasted more than an hour in sizzling heat. “I was overwhelmed by the sight of all the students lined up in their uniforms in the heat for the dedication,” Husby said. To see more photos from the dedication, click here.

More than 1,900 students in kindergarten through eighth grade attend the school. Classes are held in two shifts during the day to handle the high numbers.

The Bentiu Evangelical Covenant Church has operated Good Hope since 1999. The new buildings were needed to replace structures that had been destroyed and to accommodate additional students.

The children of many government officials attend the school, and the country director for World Relief International told the Covenant delegation that the school is considered the best in Unity State. It is the only Christian school in the community, and religious instruction is part of the curriculum.

Classes are taught in English, which is important to many of the Christians in South Sudan, said Pete Ekstrand, Department of World Mission regional co-coordinator for Africa.

The two concrete buildings each have two classrooms, and an additional small concrete structure has lavatories. Five other classrooms and one small kitchen were built out of reeds.

Because Good Hope is officially recognized by the government, textbooks are provided and most teachers’ salaries are paid by the government. Tuition is kept very low because most of the children come from very poor families.

“The Covenant church and school leaders expressed their gratitude to CWR for the great improvement to their facilities,” Husby wrote on the new CWR blog. “However, they also expressed the need for more to be done. The classrooms are very over-crowded. There is very little in the way of equipment and supplies. Students either bring their own chairs from home or sit on the floor.”

Husby added, “The reality in South Sudan is that a large number of children are not able to attend school, and the schools that do exist are struggling to provide a good education because of very limited resources.”

Besides Husby and Pete Ekstrand, the delegation included Curt Peterson, executive minister of the Department of World Mission (CWM); Cindy Ekstrand, CWM co-regional coordinator for Africa; James Tang, Covenant missionary in Sudan and coordinator of Sudanese ministries; leaders of the Evangelical Covenant Church of Sudan; William Ruey Lock, superintendent; and Peter Gatwech Chuol, school principal.

Much of the delegation had spent the two previous nights in Fangak, and the trip to Bentiu was something of an adventure, they said.

The group left at 5:30 a.m. in the pitch dark in a speedboat. The commissioner of Fangak offered the use of the speedboat when he learned the delegation initially was going to use the ECC of Sudan boat.

“Originally we were told that the trip in the church’s boat would take eight hours, and then later the number went to twelve and then sixteen,” Husby said. “The speedboat was too small to take our whole group, so most of the ECC of Sudan leaders took the slower boat and finally arrived 20 hours later.”

Husby added that the first 90 minutes in the speedboat on the White Nile were “exhilarating” in the moonlight, but that changed when the delegation had to travel west through narrow tributaries about three hours into the journey. “We soon found the waterways clogged by vegetation floating down the river,” he said. “We spent more than an hour grasping the floating vegetation and their massive root systems to literally pull the boat through the clogged waterways.”

The Covenant group was greeted enthusiastically by a singing delegation at the riverside when they finally arrived in Bentiu at 10:30 a.m. “The only accompaniment they used was a large drum. This is what we have seen throughout our travels in Sudan. We have been blessed by this wonderful singing everywhere we have visited,” Husby said.

Covenant leaders have been in Africa to check the progress of current projects, explore additional partnerships, and encourage area missionaries.

To read a previous news story on the CHIC 2006 donation, click here.

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