IF THE city of Bor, capital of Jonglei State in South Sudan, isn’t in the geographic centre of Africa, it’s near enough to it.
It’s a place of over 300,000 people that’s had its share of challenges.
Bor was the epicentre of the Second Sudanese Civil War, later the scene of the 1991 massacre of more than 2000 people and in recent times the national army has battled it out there with rebels during the 2013 South Sudanese coup d’état attempt.
It’s against this backdrop that the South Gippsland-based Brynsschool overseas’ aid organisation has performed something of a miracle.
Led by Inverloch’s George Hendry, with local financial backing they’ve managed to do the impossible and open an all-girls school there.
“South Sudan would have to be the hardest place in the world for a girl to get an education,” said George this week.
“Earlier this year Brynsschool became the only organisation to successfully open a new school in the past five years.
“Although the school is unfinished the urgency to educate girls was paramount,” he said.
At the beginning, 120 girls squeezed into three classrooms, but this number has steadily grown to 160 throughout the year.
“If we could build a school for 3000 kids, we’d fill it,” he said.
“We had to make it an all-girl school because while 60 per cent of school-age kids in South Sudan don’t go to school, most of them are girls and you can’t have a handful of girls in a classroom of 40 boys. It wouldn’t work.”
He said education is a way out of poverty and early marriage for the girls.
Another three yet-to-be finished classrooms will be completed when finances are available.
Which is the point of a fundraising effort at Inverloch this Saturday, December 7, to be held at George’s home, 49A Dixon Street from 9am to 1pm where a large range of Asian handicrafts will be on sale, the proceeds of which will go to the school in Bor.
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