South Sudanese Family Rescue Operation
In his message to the United States Congress in September of 2015, Pope Francis called for compassion for the refugee and immigrant. In a time when the refugees are fleeing from dangerous and desperate conditions in their own countries, the Pope is calling for us to “view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation”.
The numbers of refugees is overwhelming. But St. Elizabeth of Hungary Region of the Secular Franciscan Order has been blessed in finding a specific South Sudanese family through our outreach to young people in the Portland, Maine, Diocese.
We have befriended a young woman, who still has five family members in the war-torn country of South Sudan, her two brothers, aged 28 and 15, her sister, aged 30, and her sister’s two little girls, ages 4 and 11. The civil war in South Sudan has resulted in wide-spread shortages of food and clean water, and the constant threat of violence and genocide. Outbreaks of cholera and malaria are widespread. One of our friend’s sisters was killed by a suicide bomber while shopping in the marketplace in Juba, the capitol city. Her 4-year-old niece was born with spina bifida, and goes without medical care.
Owing to the efforts of Kim Tison, OFS, who became her sponsor, our Sudanese friend’s mother, Mary, arrived in the United States on August 6th, 2015. Now she can bring the rest of her family here under refugee asylum status. But first we need to get the family out of danger in South Sudan and bring them to Nairobi, Kenya, where they can begin the process of obtaining the documentation needed to come here to the United States.
St. Elizabeth of Hungary Region has already provided the money for transportation from South Sudan to Nairobi, and funds to secure housing there. But funds are still needed to get DNA testing to prove that they are related to Mary (no birth records are available in their country). They must also pay for medical checkups, visa processing and visa fees as well as plane fare from Nairobi to Boston. The estimated budget for these expenses is over $20,000 – much more than the family could ever hope to raise on their own.
The opportunity to keep this family intact, and to get them out of danger is such a great blessing to us. We are asking all our Fraternities to support this effort in whatever way possible.