First, I hope that all our friends, donors, and supporters reading this newsletter are OK and keeping safe. Never have we known a year like this! I suspect we are only just beginning to appreciate the effects of this “new normal” on our lives…
Good Shepherd Peace Center, located 13 kilometres southeast of Juba, capital city of South Sudan, was built and opened in October 2016 to meet the needs of vowed religious sisters, brothers and priests of South Sudan for a venue to hold meetings, workshops, retreats, and formation courses. As the project developed, the vision extended to providing programming for human, pastoral and spiritual formation, peace building and trauma healing, since South Sudan as a country, still in conflict, has great need of these activities. The religious and Church groups, lay, clergy and religious offer these programs through the national and diocesan Church structures, working for peace and development for all people of South Sudan.
GSPC is unique, the only retreat venue in South Sudan. There are few other Church centers able to hold more than 30 people. Good Shepherd Peace Centre can accommodate up to 140 participants with two buildings of 20 rooms each able to sleep two in a self-contained room. In addition, the Youth Hostel can sleep 60 in 30 bunk beds. A large and a small conference room and four small rooms make it a most fitting venue for workshops. A large dining room and kitchen facilities provide convenient service for meals. The center is powered with 200 solar panels to provide electricity and a borehole to provide water.
The center provides employment for 25 personnel including 10 security personnel. The center has always been able to manage its expenses by renting space for various programs and activities. At the time Solidarity assumed management of the center, the pastoral team had to face the challenge of the COVID lockdown and maintain the center and staff without any income. It was a great support that Friends of Solidarity, with the assistance of generous donors, extended to us through their valuable contribution. We appreciate and thank them on behalf of our staff and security personnel.
With relaxation of the COVID-19 restrictions, the South Sudan government allowed us to re-open the center in compliance with government COIVD-19 prevention measures, including wearing of masks, physical distancing, sanitation of facilities, etc. Since re-opening in May, Good Shepherd Peace Center has hosted four Solidarity sponsored workshops, three programs facilitated by external groups, a number of individual retreats, and some private individuals who have come for spiritual refreshment.
Over the past couple of months, your generosity has allowed us to stay afloat in the midst of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. We have been fortunate enough to have funds for staff salaries as well as repairs and maintenance of the center. For this, we are most grateful to our Friends in Solidarity with South Sudan and all our donors for their unwavering support during these most challenging times. We deeply remember you in our prayers.
Sister Scholasticah Nganda, RSM
Solidarity with South Sudan
Director, Good Shepherd Peace Center