As he participates in the Synod, Barani Hiiboro Kussala cannot help but think of how the Church in South Sudan is struggling to recover a traumatised generation of young people lost to a relentless armed conflict that started in 2013.
Young people in South Sudan need hope
The Bishop says it is regrettable that many of South Sudan’s children and young people are missing out on an education; living in refugee camps; faced with violence, forced conscription from military gangs and are living without hope for the future.
“The majority in our country are young people. For us in the Church, definitely (one of our major responsibilities) is to orient these (young people) towards values of a human being who respects and who has value, who cares for himself and others and his nation. This is the message we have for young people. We also encourage our country to make sure that nobody is misusing these young people. We are bringing programmes that will integrate them (into society), first of all, to feel the beauty of their country, the (importance) of togetherness and then (we are introducing) skills that can help them have meaning for themselves now and in the future,” the South Sudanese prelate told Vatican News.
Young people need skills
Barani Hiiboro Kussala says the skills that empower young people need not necessarily be formal and learned in a classroom. He cites apprenticeships as a possible avenue for channeling technical and entrepreneurship skills in order for young people to have legitimate means of making ends meet.
Empowering young people is a job that cannot be left to the South Sudanese government alone, says the Bishop.
Church will never give up on young people
In some parts of South Sudan, the Church is the only institution running schools or educational centres .
“As I speak the Catholic Church in South Sudan has a huge programme of education. (The war notwithstanding), our schools are a huge support to the country. We (even) have the Catholic university that we continually try to empower.” The Bishop adds, “Youth are the Centre, the nucleus of the community. We don’t want to leave them lazing about and feeling completely left out,” the Bishop said