Sudan and Austria might not seem to be countries with much in common, yet both nations have seen the devastation of war on the homefront. For Austria, it was world wars; for southern Sudan, a civil war that ended in 2005 with a fragile peace agreement. There is also the conflict in the Darfur region.
Both Austria and Sudan have experienced the child malnutrition that so often accompanies conflict, and both countries have benefited from school feeding provided by Catholic Relief Services.(CRS).
In the case of Austria, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) was one of the forces behind school meals for children in the post-World War II years. This was pivotal. Children were at risk of malnutrition after the war. The reconstruction was made difficult by harsh winters and drought in 1946-47 which decreased food supplies. CRS was one of the charities on the ground helping the U.S. Army, UNRRA and UNICEF in providing school feeding.
Today, Sudan is also at a pivotal crossroads in terms of peace and reconstruction. There is the referendum in January on whether Southern Sudan should become a separate country. There is now an intense push for peace and reconstruction from the civil conflicts which have plagued Sudan for so many years.
Once again Catholic Relief Services, in addition to its peacemaking efforts, is providing school meals for children. Partnering with the UN World Food Programme, CRS is helping 16,889 primary school children in Bor Country in Southern Sudan. This program not only provides food for the schools, but also includes a take-home ration to encourage more girls to attend. The girl then becomes a breadwinner under this plan and the parents are more likely to send her to school.
The CRS Food for Recovery program also helps with the construction and improvement of school facilities. Laborers are given food for their work. Schools benefit as well as the workers since they receive the ration. This is reconstruction both in terms of infrastructure and improving nutrition.
To learn more about the work of Catholic Relief Services in Sudan, please visit Peace in Sudan.