Ethiopia #4: Pinyudo Refugee Camp
by Frank Dimmock
From Thursday, November 8th, through Saturday I was visiting the Pinyudo refugee camp, 5 painful hours South of Gambella. The camp has approximately 86,000 refugees with more than 50,000 children. One zone of the camp has refugees remaining from the conflict in South Sudan in the 1990’s. The Outreach Foundation has helped to train eleven refugees in Pinyudo 1 camp and three more in the smaller sister camp Pinyudo 2. I was able to meet most of them and learn of their progress with healing and listening groups. I also met four of the children who participated last year in the children’s trauma healing camp. I am encouraged by the efforts of these committed volunteers. There is much work to be done in helping the refugees understand and release their trauma, experience forgiveness and rebuild hope. In Pinyudo there are 8 parishes and more than 40 churches where we are working to build communities of healing. It is exciting!
I was pleased to meet staff from a global organization who are providing foster care-type services to protect unaccompanied children. I joined a meeting of community health volunteers from the camp as they reported on their work. By knowing and networking with others, all will learn and be strengthened and more refugees will be served.
I also visited four preschools in the camps that are supported by Outreach funds. Early childhood learning was a priority identified by the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan three years ago. There are several classrooms under construction and the demand for early learning and adult literacy is high. There will continue to be basic funding needs for the preschools. Learning is essential for rebuilding hope for the millions of South Sudanese children who have been displaced and fallen behind in their education.
Inspired in Ethiopia,
Africa Mission Specialist