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". . . we are covered in a very big happiness!"
- Business Loan Recipient
 
On this South Sudan Independence Day, we are taking time to reflect on our successes and plan for new challenges. The 2019 school year got off to a boisterous start with the enrollment of 575 students, the granting of 6 business loans, and several new construction projects. These are not the actions of people who do not believe in the future.  The idea has taken hold that education is the best way forward for a new South Sudan. As the government works to implement the national revitalized Peace agreement, the Rumbek community is preparing to be active participants in the new civil society. 
Of course, so many new students present a host of new challenges.
Read below about our latest programs and projects and how you can be a real part of a better future.
Open for Business

During a visit to Rumbek in May and June, Marg Kutz and Jean Dobay visited some of the 2017 business loan recipients to see how they are fairing. The businesses included a salon, a retail shop, and a storage area for ground nuts from agriculture.

Handcrafts
Marion owns and operates a handicraft business that makes beautiful beaded purses.  She has already paid back her loan of $250 for the handcrafts so she will be eligible for a scholarship. Her large purses cost her about $40 each in materials and take her about one week to make. 
Agriculture and Food Storage
Agriculture is waiting for the best season to sell their ground nuts. They store bags of g-nuts at the market. Seven men, women, and teens are employed to do the clearing and weeding. There is no fence so they have to watch the property carefully. There is also no borehole so they cultivate only in the rainy season. The ox they used for plowing was stolen and costs about $300 to replace. Two ox and more hoes will cost about $1,000.

Hair Salon
The salon is struggling to get customers as there are too many similar businesses and the economy is poor. The lack of rain in this rainy season impacts non-essential businesses.  Right now they do weaving plaits and nail polish but may expand to men’s hair cuts and clothes to get more customers. 
It's a hard lesson to learn how to deal with competition and external factors. Everyone, including supervisor Teacher Deng Henry and Director Justin, is learning. 

Recipients of the new business loans were announced at an assembly.  Of the 75 graduates in 2018, 66 applied for a business loan. The ones approved include 36 students, 11 of whom are female.  The Chamber of Commerce has agreed not to require business licenses of these student businesses.  Each business is required to open a bank account and the loan money will be deposited directly into those accounts.
 
There are six businesses to be funded in this second round:

Young Farming Association     $2000
Good Life Carpentry     $700
Abukloi Students Intercropping Farming     $2000
Bright Future Vegetable     $2000
       
This is a female group.
Friendship Retail Trade     $1400
Traditional African Dress Fashion Design     $600
In June, Jean Dobay (RN, MBA) taught a health and sanitation class to 16 students representing all four grades. The morning session focused on diseases common to South Sudan. Students had the opportunity to practice good hand washing techniques. They also had a brief review of human anatomy, and students were able to take each other's blood pressure and pulse.

In the afternoon, they discussed responsible sex and healthy pregnancy. A local midwife was present to help with a very lively conversation and many cultural myths were dispelled. A local pregnant woman was kind enough to let us use her bell to listen for fetal heart sounds. The training was well received. Hopefully, it enlightened the students on healthy lifestyles and responsible sexual relationships.
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SUPPORT OUR GIRLS
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SUPPORT EXTRA-CURRICULARS
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We recently received funding to install a solar powered well pump and water tower. This system will allow us to have reliable running water at the school to supply the kitchen for food preparation and gardens. 

MEET OUR STUDENTS

This is Paul Mawien. Paul is 23 years old and in his second year. It is his first year at Abukloi.  He wants to attend university and study law and the economy.  Paul lives with friends in Rumbek and thoroughly enjoys being in a peaceful community.
 
"School is good, there is good teaching and sports, especially football."

Paul was a child soldier from 2013 (at age 17) until now. His father was Sudanese and unable to protect him from being forced into the military.
 
There are currently two former child soldiers in our school. 
While conscripted, the young men were quite frightened to be forced to have sex with prostitutes who often had HIV/AIDS.  It was part of a hideous system in which both young men and women were abused and manipulated to fight for a tyrannical regime. The young men are clearly traumatized and broken by their experience.

We hope to show them a community of love and hope for the future.
 
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