During a parish visit to the White Nile congregation in Vaasa, Finland, last month, I met with the church council for an update on the Education Project which was sponsored last year by our Bishop's Lent Appeal, and later had a meeting with the students themselves.
The congregation of several hundred families, led by Fr Amos Manga, a South Sudanese non-stipendiary priest of our Diocese, established the Education Project to provide English language instruction. English is the official language of the newly independent South Sudan. Through this programme in NW Finland, those who once had to flee their homeland are now being equipped for an eventual return, ready to give leadership in the new national language.
About 15 men and women have completed the first module and will be revising for an exam soon. Already I was able to engage in conversation with them, about their jobs, their family life and their hope for the future. All of them had virtually no English capacity at all until starting the programme! Classes are held twice a week for 2 hours at a time. Their principal teacher, Owen Ndoromo, himself a trained language instructor and member of the congregation judges that after 4 modules, these keen students will be competently fluent in English. An amazing and encouraging feat!