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8th November Fr. John’s ankle is healing well after treatment in Dublin and he hopes to get back in action in Rumbek as soon as possible. A big effort is being made by the Loreto Sisters to establish Girls Education and Fr. John is assisting in that work and looking forward to getting back and involved. He sent me an essay that one of the students wrote about her experience of trying to get an education in South Sudan. It makes for interesting reading. This is it: My name is Deborah Ageer Kok. I am 21 years old. I am currently studying at Kenya Methodist university, pursuing Bachelor of business information technology, I am finishing my second year. My life stories all the way from primary school to high school I went to school in 2006. I started in malou primary school, malou primary is in certain village called malou in Rumbek east. It was a new primary school where classes used to be under the trees. Later on we moved to different village where I finished my primary school. Dad took me to school and he was the one paying my school fees. Mum was not happy with that idea of me going to school, she keeps stopping me from going to school. In 2008 my dad left the country, he went to Khartoum and stayed there for few months in the meanwhile my uncles and mom decided to take me to someone whose work is to remove teeth, he did removes some of my teeth as a part of the culture of which I was not supposed to do as a pupil. In the Dinka culture lower teeth and some upper teeth are removed. they threatened me to keep it secret from my dad when he returns. Three months’ later dad came back home, I avoided laughing in presence of my dad because if I laugh anyhow dad might have noticed that some of my teeth are removed, dad was a primary teacher, he never allows any of his relatives, children and his pupils to engage in cultural activities like teeth removal. If dad finds it out that some of my teeth are missing it would bring a big fight in the family, so I stopped laughing in his presence until he gets used to how my teeth look with some gaps between them. 12 years later mom did same thing to my younger sister, dad was very mad about it, he wanted to take that guy to court, that man that has removed my sister ‘s teeth, then dad gets to hear that mine were removed too, the whole story was narrated to him about how it was kept secretly from him for 12 years, dad was shocked. In 2009 mom used to over worked me so that I do not attend all my classes, I used to miss 1- 2 lessons and dad keeps convincing mom to allow me to study, by then I was in primary five. Early 2010 I was promoted to primary six. My uncles, mom, brother took me to cattle camp and threated me not escape from cattle camp, I was taken without my father’s knowledge, more over I did not have powers to refused not to come along with them. I stayed in cattle camp for 5 months until I managed to escaped to return home to go back to school. I came late to school and dad was not happy about it then he warned mom, uncles and brother not to take me to cattle camp again. After that mom stops thinking about taking me to cattle camp and came up with different ideas of making me drop out of school. She doubles my duties so that I don’t have no time to revised my books and she stopped me from attending morning lessons. All her intentions were to make me fail my exams so that she will be giving excuses that her daughter is dull in school. All my teachers were aware about this case, so my teachers used to come to our home to convinced mom to allows me to go to school. In 2012 when I was in primary eight, things get worse mom did not want me to go high school. I have faced my challenges in primary eight. Mom can make me cook and washed dishes for everyone in the family and cooking in the village is not easy thing you have to collect firewood and fetch water from a distance. I used to cook and do all the necessary cleaning in order to waste my time so that I do not read for my exams, it reaches to the point where she can wet my books so that I do not revised for my exams. Then I used to borrow books from my friends to revised. In my entire primary school, I used to be among the top five pupils that have performance well. Then I did my exams for primary leaving certificate and I did well, I managed to be the best girl in my school. In 2013 I was done with primary school and ready to go to high school. In January 2013 I went to Loreto girls secondary school for interview to joined form one, then I passed the interview and started my high school in April 2013. I completed form one without any challenge. When I was in form two life was hard, dad used to give me less money for shopping, he can pay the school fees and shopping money was a problem. I was not able to buy all my basic needs, I never had enough money to buy simple basic needs. Every time when I return back from my holidays I will come to school while crying and stress up, I can only come back with groundnuts and I will see other students with their boxes filled with their basic needs. This thing disturbed me until my performances dropped, I was not performing well like when I was in primary, one day I told my friend about how I don’t manage to make some shopping, then she advices me to stop studying instead of coming to school with nothing in my box then I can stay at home, I did not listen to her advice I continued with my struggle until I reach form four, from there I got a better friend, that friend used to encouraged me and can even make for me some shopping. In 2016-2017 I did my form four exams and passed them. In 2017 I went back to Loreto compound to do some internship, I served as a primary teacher at Loreto primary school and I was doing computer training as well. In December 2017 a certain family came to our home to informed my family that they want their son to marry me and I was in Loreto where I do my internship. Then I was tick to come home to meet the guy because I have never met him before. So I came home and met the guy where he told me his interest that he wants to marry me but I refused his proposal then I return back to Loreto. Few days later my uncles, grandfather, mom, brother agreed with the boy’s family to arrange the marriage. The boy’s family paid the dowry, then my father refused to take those cows that were paid as the dowry. My uncles never gave up because force marriages are very common in my community. In my community there is a say “marriage first love later”, young girls are force to marry men they do not love and they are expected to love them later. By then everyone in Loreto compound was going for holiday. My uncles, grandfather, brother and mom were glad that I would go home for holiday so that they can kidnap me and take me to the boy’s family. My dad knew that plan so he came to Loreto to talk to our principal Sr. orla, he requested Orla to allow me to stay in the compound so that my uncles won’t get me. Orla allowed me to stay until the cases of force marriage are settle. All the students and teachers went for the holiday then I remain with Sr. Orla for few days in the compound. Sr. Orla was also leaving for holiday and father John Skinnader was coming to Loreto to spent his holiday in the Loreto compound. He came then Orla told him about my force marriage case and she tells him to make sure gates are locked throughout and not allow anyone from my family to enter the gate apart from my dad. I stay in the compound with workers and father John. In that time, I get to know father John, one day we discuss about my force marriage case, he asked me why I don’t go to school instead of hiding in Loreto compound, then I told him my dad cannot afford to take me to different country and I would be grateful to go different country and study where my uncles cannot easily find me and force me to marry, father John made it to meet my dad then dad narrated how he struggled to pay my school fees since primary school up to high school and he is not able to pay for the university. The only option I have was to keep hiding in the Loreto compound. John had pity on me and promised to support me, John also met my mother and talked to her, he told mom to allows me to study, he promised to support the family by providing food and get for me scholarship, mom was somehow convinced to allow me to study. In 2018 when I finished my internship in Loreto, fr. John got for me scholarship then I came to Nairobi to study. I am currently in the university and also free from force marriage threats. Despite the fact that I have faced many challenges before I get the opportunity I have never give up, finally I have achieved some peace of mind. I will always be grateful for the opportunity to be in school. That gives us some idea of what others do to get an eduation and difficulties they face in just staying alive. We really do not appreciate what we have and how lucky we are. It also gives us and insight into the type of life Fr. John has and the wonderful work he is doing. God Bless them all.
All Content Copyright emyvale.net
Fr. John ---- Page 5 Page 4 Page 3 Page 2 Page 1
8th November Fr. John’s ankle is healing well after treatment in Dublin and he hopes to get back in action in Rumbek as soon as possible. A big effort is being made by the Loreto Sisters to establish Girls Education and Fr. John is assisting in that work and looking forward to getting back and involved. He sent me an essay that one of the students wrote about her experience of trying to get an education in South Sudan. It makes for interesting reading. This is it: My name is Deborah Ageer Kok. I am 21 years old. I am currently studying at Kenya Methodist university, pursuing Bachelor of business information technology, I am finishing my second year. My life stories all the way from primary school to high school I went to school in 2006. I started in malou primary school, malou primary is in certain village called malou in Rumbek east. It was a new primary school where classes used to be under the trees. Later on we moved to different village where I finished my primary school. Dad took me to school and he was the one paying my school fees. Mum was not happy with that idea of me going to school, she keeps stopping me from going to school. In 2008 my dad left the country, he went to Khartoum and stayed there for few months in the meanwhile my uncles and mom decided to take me to someone whose work is to remove teeth, he did removes some of my teeth as a part of the culture of which I was not supposed to do as a pupil. In the Dinka culture lower teeth and some upper teeth are removed. they threatened me to keep it secret from my dad when he returns. Three months’ later dad came back home, I avoided laughing in presence of my dad because if I laugh anyhow dad might have noticed that some of my teeth are removed, dad was a primary teacher, he never allows any of his relatives, children and his pupils to engage in cultural activities like teeth removal. If dad finds it out that some of my teeth are missing it would bring a big fight in the family, so I stopped laughing in his presence until he gets used to how my teeth look with some gaps between them. 12 years later mom did same thing to my younger sister, dad was very mad about it, he wanted to take that guy to court, that man that has removed my sister ‘s teeth, then dad gets to hear that mine were removed too, the whole story was narrated to him about how it was kept secretly from him for 12 years, dad was shocked. In 2009 mom used to over worked me so that I do not attend all my classes, I used to miss 1- 2 lessons and dad keeps convincing mom to allow me to study, by then I was in primary five. Early 2010 I was promoted to primary six. My uncles, mom, brother took me to cattle camp and threated me not escape from cattle camp, I was taken without my father’s knowledge, more over I did not have powers to refused not to come along with them. I stayed in cattle camp for 5 months until I managed to escaped to return home to go back to school. I came late to school and dad was not happy about it then he warned mom, uncles and brother not to take me to cattle camp again. After that mom stops thinking about taking me to cattle camp and came up with different ideas of making me drop out of school. She doubles my duties so that I don’t have no time to revised my books and she stopped me from attending morning lessons. All her intentions were to make me fail my exams so that she will be giving excuses that her daughter is dull in school. All my teachers were aware about this case, so my teachers used to come to our home to convinced mom to allows me to go to school. In 2012 when I was in primary eight, things get worse mom did not want me to go high school. I have faced my challenges in primary eight. Mom can make me cook and washed dishes for everyone in the family and cooking in the village is not easy thing you have to collect firewood and fetch water from a distance. I used to cook and do all the necessary cleaning in order to waste my time so that I do not read for my exams, it reaches to the point where she can wet my books so that I do not revised for my exams. Then I used to borrow books from my friends to revised. In my entire primary school, I used to be among the top five pupils that have performance well. Then I did my exams for primary leaving certificate and I did well, I managed to be the best girl in my school. In 2013 I was done with primary school and ready to go to high school. In January 2013 I went to Loreto girls secondary school for interview to joined form one, then I passed the interview and started my high school in April 2013. I completed form one without any challenge. When I was in form two life was hard, dad used to give me less money for shopping, he can pay the school fees and shopping money was a problem. I was not able to buy all my basic needs, I never had enough money to buy simple basic needs. Every time when I return back from my holidays I will come to school while crying and stress up, I can only come back with groundnuts and I will see other students with their boxes filled with their basic needs. This thing disturbed me until my performances dropped, I was not performing well like when I was in primary, one day I told my friend about how I don’t manage to make some shopping, then she advices me to stop studying instead of coming to school with nothing in my box then I can stay at home, I did not listen to her advice I continued with my struggle until I reach form four, from there I got a better friend, that friend used to encouraged me and can even make for me some shopping. In 2016-2017 I did my form four exams and passed them. In 2017 I went back to Loreto compound to do some internship, I served as a primary teacher at Loreto primary school and I was doing computer training as well. In December 2017 a certain family came to our home to informed my family that they want their son to marry me and I was in Loreto where I do my internship. Then I was tick to come home to meet the guy because I have never met him before. So I came home and met the guy where he told me his interest that he wants to marry me but I refused his proposal then I return back to Loreto. Few days later my uncles, grandfather, mom, brother agreed with the boy’s family to arrange the marriage. The boy’s family paid the dowry, then my father refused to take those cows that were paid as the dowry. My uncles never gave up because force marriages are very common in my community. In my community there is a say “marriage first love later”, young girls are force to marry men they do not love and they are expected to love them later. By then everyone in Loreto compound was going for holiday. My uncles, grandfather, brother and mom were glad that I would go home for holiday so that they can kidnap me and take me to the boy’s family. My dad knew that plan so he came to Loreto to talk to our principal Sr. orla, he requested Orla to allow me to stay in the compound so that my uncles won’t get me. Orla allowed me to stay until the cases of force marriage are settle. All the students and teachers went for the holiday then I remain with Sr. Orla for few days in the compound. Sr. Orla was also leaving for holiday and father John Skinnader was coming to Loreto to spent his holiday in the Loreto compound. He came then Orla told him about my force marriage case and she tells him to make sure gates are locked throughout and not allow anyone from my family to enter the gate apart from my dad. I stay in the compound with workers and father John. In that time, I get to know father John, one day we discuss about my force marriage case, he asked me why I don’t go to school instead of hiding in Loreto compound, then I told him my dad cannot afford to take me to different country and I would be grateful to go different country and study where my uncles cannot easily find me and force me to marry, father John made it to meet my dad then dad narrated how he struggled to pay my school fees since primary school up to high school and he is not able to pay for the university. The only option I have was to keep hiding in the Loreto compound. John had pity on me and promised to support me, John also met my mother and talked to her, he told mom to allows me to study, he promised to support the family by providing food and get for me scholarship, mom was somehow convinced to allow me to study. In 2018 when I finished my internship in Loreto, fr. John got for me scholarship then I came to Nairobi to study. I am currently in the university and also free from force marriage threats. Despite the fact that I have faced many challenges before I get the opportunity I have never give up, finally I have achieved some peace of mind. I will always be grateful for the opportunity to be in school. That gives us some idea of what others do to get an eduation and difficulties they face in just staying alive. We really do not appreciate what we have and how lucky we are. It also gives us and insight into the type of life Fr. John has and the wonderful work he is doing. God Bless them all.