The presence of the Salesians in the youngest African state, South Sudan, is part of the Provincial Delegation of Sudan, which in turn belongs to the East Africa Province (AFE). There are five Salesian presences in the country - a sixth community has been suspended since 2016 after the civil unrest - for a total of 25 religious.
In Gumbo, the Salesians animate a parish, a technical-vocational training center, elementary and middle schools, a women's promotion center, a youth center, as well as a camp for internally displaced persons directly managed by the spiritual sons of Don Bosco, which welcomes 9,800 people (not counting very young children), who fled the violence of the 2013-2016 civil war.
“The biggest fear we have is that of a possible epidemic in the camp. As you can see in the photos, the tents are close: there is no room for social distancing,” report the Salesians active in Gumbo.
The level of education of the people welcomed in the camp is also on average low and this is another problem as it is difficult to convince them of the need for precautions.
“Controlling the masses for any type of distribution is very difficult,” continue the Salesians. “The camp is adjacent to several crowded local communities. And it is impossible to prevent the flow of people between the camp and these communities because there is no separation wall around the camp.”
Several years ago, the Sisters of Charity of Jesus opened a small medical dispensary inside the camp. It has ten beds, but no possibility of residential assistance, nor a test facility or respirators or other specialized equipment. "It seems that there are only four respirators in the whole country," added the Salesians.
In recent days, the archbishop of Juba, Msgr. Stephen Ameyu made an informal visit to the Salesian camp. Finally, the religious say: “He appreciated our awareness-raising efforts and our preventive measures, and encouraged people to follow our advice; then he blessed us and entrusted us to the protection of God. We need it!”