So, the first proper day! We all slept well, catching up on the effects of overnight flights. After we had retired to bed, Bishop Joseph arrived, having spent a couple days visiting his children who are at school in Entebbe. Many of the sponsored children live away from home in order to access school and further education.
So, we had arranged to meet at 8.30am for breakfast. I was woken by the guffaws of Bishop Joseph – a very welcome alarm clock! After a breakfast of fresh fruit and omelettes, we set to work. There’s an awful lot of organisation and admin that sits behind CRESS; with multiple projects and nearly 80 sponsored students, the inevitable paperwork piles up. Having the team here on site with Bishop Joseph is also an ideal opportunity to write policies and plans, and review the existing work.
Today’s focus was on the sponsored children. At the heart of CRESS’s approach to education is to see each child as an individual with unique skills and purpose, so we want to make sure the educational path they take suits them well and equips them for a career or gives them the skills to earn money on their own account. So as each student reaches the end of their current stage of education, care is taken to ensure they make the best next step for them. This might be a vocational training course or it might be a two year diploma, or it might be a university degree. Today we were reviewing each child, as well as drafting a new education policy to streamline the process.
While some of us were busy scribbling away, Pippa had the joy of meeting Sylvia, the student she sponsors. Sylvia dreams of becoming a lawyer with the aim of returning to South Sudan equipped to change the injustices she and her people have suffered. Scopas, another student, had also come to visit. He is in his first year studying computer science, and his plan is to establish an IT college in Kaj o Keji. The commitment of these young people to renewing their homeland is so encouraging and is a great hope for the future.
We also made plans for the great 10 year celebrations on Saturday. Just as we talked about the families and individuals who will be present underlined the huge differences CRESS has made to so many. Just the simple things like improving diet through better agriculture or improving health through handwashing, or providing reusable menstrual pads have huge impact, enabling people’s everydays to be easier and more productive. On top of those there are the big projects like the clinic and education. Anyway, there will be food and dancing and bunting and balloons … more on that on Saturday!