Abraham Makuac grew up in the small town of Aweil, South Sudan, but wanted a better education than what was available there. So his family sent him to live with relatives and enroll in school in Wau, the capital of Western Bahr el Ghazal State. But he also needed to earn some money, so he got a job in 2013 with the Catholic Health Training Institute (CHTI), a school to train nurses and midwives that had recently been opened by Solidarity with South Sudan, an international network of Catholic groups supporting Africa’s newest country.
He started off cleaning the campus buildings, then moved to taking care of pigs and chickens that were raised to help feed the school community. At the same time, Solidarity paid him to get an education, and he finished secondary school.
In 2020, he took charge of the school’s farm, which stretches from the classroom buildings to the banks of the nearby Jur River. It’s an ambitious agriculture enterprise that yields a variety of crops year-round to feed the students and staff, who live in dorms and residences on the CHTI grounds. Several workers help him plant and harvest the farm’s fields, which yield beans, eggplant, tomatoes, cucumbers, bananas, corn, peanuts, okra, cabbage, peppers, collard greens, millet, and other nutritious vegetables, fruits, and grains.
Abraham, who now wants to study agriculture at a university level, may not teach classes on biology in the classrooms, but he’s just as important to the community.
“Our bodies need food, and if the school were to go to the market to buy these things, it’s very expensive. So I plant them to help keep the school running,” he said.
Not only does his harvest go to the school’s kitchen, but Abraham says students craving certain foods will come to the farm in search of their favorite foods. “They’ll come here looking for tomatoes. And everyone likes the greens we grow,” he said.
Abraham laments the hunger which prevails in many parts of the country.
“South Sudan has good land for agriculture, but the conflict prevents us from using it. So we pray hard that God will bring us peace.”
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Top photo: Workers harvest food in the garden of the Catholic Health Training Institute, in Wau, South Sudan. The school, which trains nurses and midwives, is sponsored by Solidarity with South Sudan and grows a good portion of the food consumed by students and staff.
Story and photos by Paul Jeffrey