Africa Sunrise Update: August 2019
Greetings from Jacob + ASC
When I was seven years old, two very important things happened to me. The first was a dream I had when I was out in cattle camp with my brother and cousins, tending to our parents’ cattle. I saw myself standing in front of a large congregation of our people, wearing a clerical collar. I told my brother and cousins about my dream and they were very upset with me. They said, “No one in our family has ever been a pastor. If you are a leader you must be a military or political leader.” They even beat me when I kept talking about my dream. However, that dream never left me.
The second occurrence was that fateful night when members of a militia raided our peaceful village with guns and bombs. Once again, I was outside the village, and I and many others ran into the bush without any clothes on our backs. For the next fourteen years, I was a refugee, moving between refugee camps across East Africa to stay ahead of danger. In 2001, I was brought to the United States as one of the “Lost Boys” of Sudan. America has given me a home and an education, and I have fulfilled my dream of becoming a pastor. This photo shows some of my fellow “Lost Boys” in 1992 in a refugee camp in Kenya.
I always knew that I wanted to return to my homeland (now called South Sudan, after separating from Sudan). I wanted to help my country to rebuild after decades of conflict. This is best done though providing education for my people. To do this, God has given me a vision of building a school in my hometown of Bor. I formed a non-profit agency named Africa Sunrise Communities and through it am raising funds to build the school.
REPORT ON MY TRIP TO BOR
This is the latest report on our project of building a school in Bor. We at Africa Sunrise Communities have given the name Rising Hope Christian Center to the overall project. After the perimeter security wall is in place, we will begin building the Akechkuai School. Our goal is that eventually we will have other buildings surrounding the school, a church, and perhaps even a medical clinic.
In the Bible, the book of Nehemiah tells of his return to Jerusalem to build the wall for safety for its people. Nehemiah is my role model for our Rising Hope Christian Center in Bor, South Sudan. First we must build the wall for safety and security. Only then can we proceed with the school and the other buildings to complete the project.
For my latest trip to South Sudan in July, I went first to Nairobi, Kenya, to visit my mother. She is taking care of the orphaned children of my sister and I am helping to support them. Then, on July 9th , I traveled to Juba, the capital of South Sudan. My mission there was to establish contacts and meet with the key stakeholders of Africa Sunrise Communities and brief them on the progress of my mission in South Sudan.
Bor Project Updates
Connections Made In Juba
I met with the Director of Buffalo Bank of South Sudan, Dr. Mayen Akuak Mayen, who helped the ASC to open up the bank accounts for US and South Sudanese currencies. Dr. Mayen appreciates the great effort of the ASC management board and me for raising the funds to start the Bor project.
I was then able to meet the most senior government officials who supported me in our 2018 acquisition of land for the school in Bor and give them an update that we began the project with the wall it made full pledge of support to help to open some other doors for us if we are need of any future plan.They were amazed by our quick efforts to start the fence construction, are happy for the Rising Hope Christian Center initiative and promise to give support to this work.
Visit To The School Project Site
On July 11th I traveled to the city of Bor to meet with officials concerning the registration of Africa Sunrise Communities in Juba. A group of interested pastors who inquired about the objectives, mission and vision of the African Sunrise Communities also met with me. I had the privilege of preaching for them and explaining to them my mission in South Sudan.
I then went to visit the project site. The perimeter security wall is being built in 3 phases, at a total cost of $95,000. Phase One is under construction now, and includes the excavation and footers, at a total cost of $37,665 of which $29,250 has been raised. Phase Two (costing $24,500) includes the ground beam and columns. Phase Three encompasses the final wall and gate (at a cost of $33,060). Our date for the wall project to be finish is January 2020 by Gods grace.
I went to the site and met with Engineer Lual, who oversees the construction work for the wall. The work is progressing well, though the advent of the rainy season has brought so much rain and mud it has made accessing the project site difficult. When it rains, workers have to stop since they lack the equipment to work in the rain. Some corners of the fence are being flooded; an area of about 62 meters needs beams for reinforcement. There are long distances between the locations of the construction materials and the construction site. Lual and his team suggested that the workers need raincoats and gumboots. A water pump is needed to empty part of the construction site filled with rain. The workers need to be paid on a weekly basis for their work.Even though I was not dressed in work clothes, I encouraged the workers by helping out on the site.
Despite the rain, our construction work is progressing well. The materials have been purchased and the work goes on with written approval from our Bor Project coordinator, Marial, and our Juba project coordinator, John Lual Nyok. If we can raise the total amount of funds needed, we can pay the workers and afford any site maintenance to get Phase One completed in time. The remaining objective is completing the foundation wall, for which about 80% of the materials is readily available.
Challenges We Are Facing
AT THE WORK SITE:
Rainy weather constantly causes delays, such as taking hours to pull out of the mud a truck loaded with supplies, which means offloading the truck and then reloading it again on drier ground. Our contractor found that the dimensions of our land had been incorrectly measured by the government, giving us a plot of land only 90 x 90 meters rather than the 100 x 100 meters we thought we had. We had to obtain the services of a surveyor to correct this, again costing us time and money.
The owner of an adjoining plot cut a tree which fell on our side, and slowed our measuring process. We have managed to complete about 376 meters of the foundation for the wall fence. The remaining 24 meters will be completed soon. It should have been finished by now but rains have delayed the work. We will need to drain the trenches before we commence with the foundation wall and casting of column bases.
OTHER CHALLENGES FOR ASC:
ASC is a duly registered 501©3 organization in the United States, but we must secure a Tax Identification Number from the government of South Sudan. This involves not only paying a hefty fee ($2,000) but we must specify job descriptions for all our employees and register them with the tax authorities. Such administrative tasks take time and effort, both of which are costly.
As mandated by the government, ASC must have a physical office in Juba, the capital city, even though the school will be built in Bor. We have rented office space, but chairs and a cabinet are needed. We need funds for monthly bills such as renting the office and for paying the custodian and the security guard, as well as the electric bill.