In December 2020, I joined Jervasio Amotun in Kenya and headed to South Sudan to mobilize the community of Maji to come together to finish a feeder road, linking the rural town of Maji to the greater region of Eastern Equatoria. Jervasio & I met with Tito Abas, the Executive Director of Ngauro County to discuss a feeder road into the village of Maji. After our meeting, Tito provided 5 police officers to support the community while working on the road.
It was an unusual year in South Sudan and Africa at large because there was so much rain. Because of this, the Maji area became thorny and bushy so the community began clearing the area in January 2021. Due to thick, thorny, and bushy forests, it took the community awhile to finish clearing where the water well will be drilled.
Once the water well is completed, the plan is to build a small village that will be home to approximately about 500 people. This will provide the focus to promote trading, building and an open air market for sustainable development in the area.
Therefore, after the community cleared the thick and bushy forests, they began construction of the first houses. The next step will then be to undertake building the feeder road. Unfortunately, the cattle keepers from the Toposa community moved their cattle to graze nearby Maji town. They became a threat to the workers on the road because the Toposa cattle keepers suspect anyone who is crossing close to their cows must be a cattle thief.
Accordingly, I had to meet with Abdallah Anjilo Lokeno of Narus County and Peter of the cattle keepers to bring the two communities together to complete the feeder road. In addition, Akileo Mboya, the Commissioner of BUDI County agreed to work with Abdallah to coordinate the meeting to discuss the completion of the feeder road.
Also, I talked to the Governor of Eastern Equatoria, Louis Lobong Lojore, General Secretary of Kapoeta State, the former Speaker of Parliament in Kapoeta State, Bosco Lotyang Peter, MP, Joseph Lokodo and all considerately agreed and advised the two communities to come together to complete the road so that water will be drilled in Maji.
The Toposa cattle keepers and the Didinga local farmers lack capacity building. I also shared with the government officials mentioned above that Peace Africa Alliance Consulting, Educating and Training Centre (PAACET), plans to come to Eastern Equatoria region to provide sustainable peace and development to local communities in Equatoria, but it is still seeking funding. Once it receives funding, it will be consolidating peace through indigenous reconciliation & social justice training to the whole area.
I have left MP Jervasio Amotun, Chief Akileo Achulo, Chief John Nangurahopir, Peter Benen Alex, Mark Lokang Lino, and Arkanjilo Grato Lothike to carry on the work. They will complete the feeder road after Akileo Mboya and Abdallah Lokeno bring the two communities together to cooperate on the feeder road.
There are two major bridges that need to be done. The whole road is just covered by grass and little trees that need to be cleared out. Maji is one of the richest lands on earth. The land is very fertile and magnificent. The local farmers grow a variety of crops that support the sustainability of the local villagers. It also produces the most pure and delicious honey in the entire world. This pure organic honey was incredibly delicious.
The land is also rich in minerals such as gold which is locally mined and marketed by the youth. International mining companies from countries such as China and India have begun operating locally which is posing serious environmental challenges for the local communities. Building the water well will encourage settlement in Maji and provide sustainability and strong community presence to mitigate the incursion of foreign development.
Former Paramount County Judge, and currently MP of Maji, Jervasio Amotun supervised the young volunteers, Mark Lokang and Ajeo Lohidic as they were buying the materials such as hoes, slashers and axes from the local shop in Kapoeta. Mark and Ajeo were inspired and they wanted to make a difference in the community. They both came from Kakuma refugees camp in Kenya. They now carry on the work with Jervasio Amotun.
In a similar fashion, Executive Director of Ngauro County, Tito Abas was inspired and he offered his great support to freely take the materials to Ngauro. As well, the community members were inspired so they voluntarily carried the materials to the village. They had to carry them on their shoulders or heads for four hours. The community members in Calgary had contributed the money for the materials for the road clearing. Generously, the community members in the village had contributed the food, such as corn flower, maize and beans.
The women patiently wait for the well in Maji. The well will be a huge advantage for the women as it will save them walking 2-3 hours each way to collect water as they currently do.
All these tools are for the feeder road clearing. These are the hoes and axes (left). The hoes help to clean the grass while the axes are used to cut down the trees on the road way. The hoes were very useful at the site in Maji. The slashers are used to slash the grass on the road way.
Augustino Lucano is South Sudanese. He was a refugee, student, social worker, and president of his own not-for-profit NGO. In 2015, Lucano received his a Bachelor's degree in Social Work from Dalhousie University in New Brunswick, Canada. He also holds a Social Work Diploma from Mount Royal University, Calgary, Alberta. He worked as a Multicultural Support Worker, and a family Support Counsellor in Calgary, connecting students and families of new immigrants with community resources.
Lucano spent four years in a Kenyan refugee camp before receiving refugee status in 1990 and came to Canada in pursuit of education, employment, and peace. Lucano volunteers with The Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre at the University of Calgary. He co-founded The Southern Sudanese Children’s Literacy Foundation (SSCLF) to help children and families in South Sudan.