Recently the Upper Nile State region in South Sudan has been gripped by scorching temperatures, yet despite the sweltering heat, activity continues to hum with the arrival of more refugees and returnees each day.

The influx is straining resources, making it challenging to meet the basic needs of the displaced and the host community. However, amidst these difficulties, the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) has emerged as a beacon of hope, particularly for persons with disabilities (PWDs).

In the month of May, 2024, a heartwarming event unfolded at the Transit Centre when a group of differently-abled women and men surprised JRS with a delightful spread of buns, coffee, and juices. The joy on their faces was palpable as they gathered, some overcoming mobility challenges to participate fully. Children added to the festivities with performances and songs, expressing gratitude to JRS. This event not only provided a moment of respite but also underscored the importance of community and support in the face of adversity.

In the midst of turmoil, children at the transit center find solace in moments of play and camaraderie. Twice a week, JRS offers them a haven for informal learning and creative expression. Their resilience and innocence shine through despite the hardships they endure, serving as a reminder of the preciousness of childhood.

Children playing in South Sudan. Photo: Jesuit Refugee Service Eastern Africa.

Protection Against Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA) is a critical concern in such settings, and during the visit to the Transit Centre JRS convened with partners to address this issue. The meeting focused on educating refugees and returnees about PSEA and establishing mechanisms to address instances of abuse effectively.

Part of the visit also culminated the celebration of Monsignor Roko Taban Musa marked 29 years of priesthood, serving as Parish Priest at Christ the King Catholic Church. His dedication and journey as one of South Sudan’s pioneering priests serves as inspiration for all, highlighting the importance of faith and resilience in the face of adversity. The gathering also brought together various congregations, emphasizing the unity and strength of the community in Renk.

As challenges persist in Upper Nile state, organizations like JRS and individuals like Monsignor Fr. Rocco stand as beacons of hope, offering support, protection, and inspiration to those in need.

Photo 1: Scholastic Nicodemus, SJ serving refreshments during the JRS visit.
Photo 2: Celebrating Fr. Rocco's 29 years of priesthood- (from left) Fr. Michael, Deacon Joseph CMF, Schl Nicodemus SJ, Fr. Milfa CMF, Fr. Rocco, Fr. Selecsion CMF.

Photos: Jesuit Refugee Service Eastern Africa