Parishes, schools and agencies

Foundation's 'heartbreaking' lack of donors

Fund supporting creation of new priests in South Sudan in desperate need

By Stephen Cauchi

March 5 2019Two Anglican ministers have established a charity that allows South Sudanese students living in Africa to attend university, but demand for the scholarships is totally outstripping what they can provide.

The Revd Dr Timothy Smith and his friend and colleague the Revd Daniel Bol set up Foundation South Sudan last year. Six South Sudanese students have been able to attend universities in Uganda and Kenya thanks to the scholarship.

But while tertiary education is cheaper in Africa – it costs about $US10,000 to get a student through a degree – it’s still a lot of money, and the Foundation is desperate for donors.

The Revd Dr Timothy Smith and the Revd Daniel Bol.

Foundation South Sudan currently had funds of about $3000, he said. “But we have well over 100 applications for scholarships. I’m estimating there’s about $US1.4-$US1.6 million of applications we’re looking at.

“At the moment we’ve raised hope and we’ve got to keep saying to students, sorry, we haven’t got the funds to do it,” said Dr Smith. “It’s breaking my heart and I know for them it’s a struggle.”

Mr Bol, a locum priest at the parish of Westmeadows/Bulla, was in Kenya in 2017 when he came across two South Sudanese university students who had run out of money.

He alerted Dr Smith, who fortunately happened to have some spare funds, to their plight.

“I said to Daniel I’d be quite happy to help these guys along,” said Dr Smith. “So that’s where it began and I became more and more aware that there were people who had the need for a university education that they couldn’t provide themselves.

“So that’s where the Foundation began. I began thinking, maybe we need to do something formally about this. So I went through the process of registering as a charity.”

Foundation South Sudan is now formally registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, which means donations are tax deductible.

Dr Smith said he had approached a number of philanthropic organisations for assistance but so far none had given money.

The scholarships covered most student costs, including school fees, travelling expenses, visa costs, food and accommodation allowance, and emergency funds.

The limited tertiary sector in South Sudan means that students usually had to attend university outside the country, said Mr Bol.

“The majority of South Sudanese are doing their education elsewhere in East Africa, whether high school, or secondary school, or university,” said Mr Bol. “They study in Kenya or Uganda then go to work in South Sudan.”

Dr Smith said that the Foundation, despite its religious origin, was not about training clergy. “There’s plenty of clergy in South Sudan. What we’re interested in is providing skilled resourced leadership for the building of this nation. We’re looking for engineers, we’re looking for teachers.”

Training doctors and nurses to staff hospitals was a particular priority, he said. “We’re not going to set up a medical centre, we’re hoping that we can work with World Vision to do that. We’ve actually had beginning conversation with [World Vision Australia chief advocate] Tim Costello about that.”

 

Readers can donate by visiting www.foundationsouthsudan.org.au or on Facebook.


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