Over 900 teachers get food relief package from Germany
By Sheila Ponnie
A Germany-based charity organization has stepped up to rescue more than 900 desperate school teachers with a donation of food items as negative COVID-19 impact pushes educators to the brink of acute food insecurity.
The New Apostolic Charitable Organization, a religious grouping funded by Germans last week empowered the New Apostolic Church in South Sudan, their religious wing in Africa’s youngest to give food handouts to 903 teachers from 25 schools across Juba.
With schools still closed, teachers across the country have been rendered jobless, and having teaching as the only source of income means the majority lack necessities such as food to facilitate the survival of their families.
To Daniel Wani, a teacher who benefitted from the donation, the writings were on the wall the moment the government implemented the COVID-19 safety guidelines which resulted in school closure.
“The first time I heard about the coronavirus and the Taskforce ordered for schools and other institutions to be closed, I got confused I started thinking about how I am going to survive with my state joblessness.
“We were interrupted as teachers, we started thinking about our families, becoming jobless on top of the poor economic situation in the country,” Wani told The City Review during a food distribution exercise at Malakia Primary School in Juba last week.
In a show of sigh relief, Wani thanked the church for stepping up and delivering the food assistance in a time it was needed the most.
“I would also like to appreciate the church for providing us with the food items, these are going to support my family for some good days,” he said adding that teachers had plans to ensure their students this year perform well but those plans have thrown into jeopardy.
Lilian Atilo Tombe, a teacher from Giyad Boys said they started the year very well with normal classes when COVID-19 struck. Like my others, Atilo thought the news a hoax before she came face-to-face with reality when all institutions of learning and churches were ordered to close.
“We started hearing rumours about a disease called coronavirus, we thought it was just a rumour but it turned out to be a reality and a nightmare. Look, it has taken six months now and schools are still closed, we as teachers are suffering, no jobs, and no food. Things are really bad,” Atilo lamented.
Atilo was on cloud nine upon receiving a phone call that a food distribution exercise for teachers was underway.
“I received a phone call with good news telling me to come and collect food and together with other teachers. I am happy with this initiative for providing us with the food items because life is really difficult,” the mother of six explained.
She said that when the government made the order for schools to be closed, teachers and students at her school got confused and half a year with no education, she receives phone calls from students asking her questions.
“I receive phone calls from very many students every day asking me questions about when schools would be opened, others even come to the school to check if there are activities taking place at the facility,” she said.
Beneficiaries of the food handouts are from Munuki East One, Munuki East Two, Atlabara West, Libya, Giyada Boys, Salama Basic, Atlabara, and Malakia among others.
Teachers’ Representative Lomode Willison at Munuki Block said since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, teachers have been badly affected and many have no jobs.
“Teachers are not working, they are stranded and nobody has ever come to help them except the New Apostolic Church today. We are grateful for the support being provided for the teachers so that they can cope with this situation of COVID-19, otherwise, we have been suffering,” Lomode bemoaned.
Lomode urged the New Apostolic Charitable Organisation to help in the development of the education sector in the country by training teachers.
“We have Arabic pattern teachers who are yearning to learn English. However, there is no support and besides that, we still have untrained teachers who need to be trained,” he said.
A senior member of the New Apostolic Church Morris Ukuni said the donation was insufficient but crucial in offering a lifeline to teachers grappling with the pressure of family upkeep.
“We know what we are giving today is not much, we are giving each family 20kg of Maize flour, 5 litters of cooking oil, and 10kg of lentil. When we consider the family members, this is little but we hope for the best and better things ahead,” he said.