Father Jose Parladé, who delivers Mary’s Meals school feeding projects in South Sudan, talks about the challenges facing the local Dinka people as the new country’s formal separation (secession) approaches.
What are your biggest concerns at the moment?
People are very hungry. The rain has just begun now, when normally it starts at the beginning of May, or even April. It means that next year agriculture will not be very productive.
Our brothers in the north have bad intentions towards us in the south. At the moment we are praying, asking for peace in the years to come. We hope that God will do what many can not do.
How are you getting food for the school feeding programme?
I am going to send some people to buy food in Uganda, because there isn’t any food here to buy. I hope that they will be able to get fuel there for travelling back. They have fuel shortages in Uganda too because of a lack of fuel caused by the war in Libya, but you can get hold of some – the problem there is not as bad there as here in South Sudan.
How has the security situation affected your work?
I have been here, in the war, for nearly 40 years. Little by little, I am understanding that if we want to do something good, we must plan the programme as usual, and adapt when the situation obliges us to change.
At the moment, I think we can continue in the same rhythm.
Have recent national events affected school attendance?
Until now the boys and girls have still been coming to school and the attendance is good. I am sure if Mary’s Meal food was not here, many children would not come to school, because of famine.
Do you expect that the lives of people in Yirol will change after July 9?
I am sure that life will change, but I don’t know if it will be for bad or good, for peace or war? Will the effects of the corruption of war lead people to enter a mentality of peace? This is my question now.