Letter-from-Sudan

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					Letter from Sudan
Frank So, one of our Volunteer Missioners writes:                                                        www.vides.us

"We wanted to save more boys but we couldn't. There were 4,000 of them [Darfur boys] waiting as we arrived but
we could only take 180. Some tried to sneak on at night as we left Nyala but they were found at the checkpoint.
Those that stay will become prisoners of hell; the starvation, famine is the cheapest way to kill and they will die." –
with his eyes tearing up, his voice softening, Fr. Vincent Donati, the 80 year old Italian Salesian priest, begs the
question- why couldn't we have done more? We must save more boys.
                                           In both a religious and non religious context, the "cross" this priest carries
                                           is not one of the world's problems but the reality of his life. A few years ago
                                           when war broke out in Darfur, the mission of the Don Bosco Vocational
                                           Training Centre expanded. They would not only educate the poor young
                                           men in the local community but house, feed, educate and show
                                           compassion for as many IDP boys they could afford to bring from the war
                                           torn areas. For Fr. Vincent and the others working at Don Bosco, the
                                           question was not merely how many could they house but more importantly,
                                           how many could they teach. Like the parable in the Bible, one can not
                                           merely feed another but must teach the other how to fish.

                                             Now with 180 boys from Darfur, 70 from the Nuba Mountains, 50 plus
street children and local students of the El Obeid city limits, the Salesians here educate approximately 730 young
men. Few are Christian and conversion is not a goal of the mission.
Instead, genuine compassion and care for fruitful understanding of
culture and religion will be the fruits of their labor.

Fr. Vincent is very much Sudanese and a friend of each of the boys
at the school. From welcoming them every morning in their
vernacular Arabic, walking the grounds and making sure the
classrooms have all teachers, students present and supplies they
need, he has earned their respect; perhaps reminding us all of what
human dignity means.

I've learned that providence has several forms and in my case and that of Matt, we wonder at times why we're here
in Sudan when there have been so many restrictions placed on us. You see shortly before we arrived in Sudan,
Sudanese President Al-Bashir visited the UN HQ in NY but US President Bush put a limit on his travel and in spite,
Pres. Bashir did the same (25km from the Presidential Palace) to all US personnel when he returned to Khartoum.
Despite that fact, Matt and I went to El Obeid and were almost arrested twice. Our visas have been expired for a
month now and we've been sent back to Khartoum. Our fate is unknown but this much is... I had planned to come to
Khartoum because all the resources needed for a project Fr. Vincent wanted are in Khartoum.

Some call this timing others, providence- Catholic Relief Service (CRS) Sudan's head
office is in Khartoum and I had set up meetings with one of their programming officers to
ask for funding to increase the number of boys from Darfur to El Obeid by 300 for a total of
500. At the same time, a good friend of mine (that's you Holly Kirschke) who works for CRS
also was visiting Sudan from the US and helped us start our proposal. We are in the last
phases of the proposal now and hope to finish it soon before we are officially persona non
grata and expelled. For now, we hope we will be able to stay until our proposal is finished and spend Christmas
                                      with the community.

                                      Your contributions to the banana fund are providing bananas to Rwanda’s
                                      orphans and are going to buy English text books and dictionaries for the
                                      boys in Sudan. I’ll write more soon again but for now…
                                      Peace – Salaam! Frank

                                      Frank So and Matthew Putorti, VIDES Volunteer Missioners, started the
                                      Banana Fund to help the orphans in Rwanda. Now they are serving in Sudan.
                                      It is now the Darfur Education and Relief Project (DERP).
                                      God bless you for choosing to be part of these projects.
www.vides.us                          Sister MaryGloria Mar, FMA, VIDES+USA Director, director@vides.us

				
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