The Brickworks is a charity that works alongside the church in the very needy nation of South Sudan, helping people to rebuild their lives after years of civil war.
The challenges faced by the people of South Sudan are huge. They have had many years of little investment and still have some of the worst health statistics in the world. There’s very high maternal mortality, few homes have access to clean water or a latrine and many children die before their fifth birthday. UNICEF announced in 2016 that more teenage girls die in childbirth than finish secondary school.
The aim of The Brickworks is to partner with the South Sudanese people through the Anglican Episcopal Church to help rebuild lives. This has meant investing in training people – health workers, teachers and pastors – and helping the church with practical, life-enhancing projects.
The Brickworks charity was created in 2009 and it has already built and equipped a children’s ward and an eye clinic, constructed new school classrooms (pictured above) and a workshop for a diocesan vocational training college. The Brickworks has helped churches build new structures and invested in church leadership training. It has funded training programmes for women and initiated camps and discipleship training for church youth. It has repaired boreholes, built latrines and supplied school desks and teaching materials.
Student sponsorship has been a large part of The Brickworks mission, giving scholarships to those who would otherwise be unable to afford it.
Sunday (above) has no parents and could not afford to train as a laboratory technician. The Brickworks now pays her college fees and living expenses.
Charles (above) returned from a refugee camp in Congo in 2006. He had completed his A levels and was seeking further education and a place to live. Soon, an opportunity arose to train some health workers for a new diocesan clinic. Charles was selected, and he went for general health training in Kampala. He found that he enjoyed administration and so, a year later with a scholarship from The Brickworks, he enrolled for a degree in health management. He graduated in 2012 and, since then, he has been the manager of the diocesan clinic in Yei. He is also the lead youth worker for Yei cathedral.
Fleeing for their lives
Unfortunately, five years after independence, the city of Yei was attacked by soldiers and over half the population fled to northern Uganda. Over a million South Sudanese now live in refugee camps in Uganda, having left everything behind. The diocesan schools and clinic remain open but with low numbers they need financial support. The Brickworks supports the diocese and, since 2017, has also helped those who are in refugee camps.
The Brickworks now funds four under-tree schools in the camps, catering for over 3000 primary school children living as refugees in Uganda. Pupils bring their own chairs and the school lacks many books but it is a start. Charles started his education too in an under tree school as did several of the bishops who partner with The Brickworks.
There is much more work to be done. The schools really need basic shelters like these to protect the children from sun and rain. Children at the two schools in St Michael’s parish will be fund raising for this. The youth often have nothing to do and The Brickworks has supported youth camps, Christian radio programmes teaching on the need for peace and reconciliation and discipleship training.
The Brickworks is based in Bristol and has no paid staff. It is run by John and Poppy Spens who visit Uganda twice a year and who meet their own costs. Virtually everything given to The Brickworks is put to work on these church projects and there could be opportunities for St Michael’s members to join a future team.
Please pray for peace to return to South Sudan to enable the 1.3 million refugees in Uganda to return home.
Please pray for the nursery and primary schools in the refugee camps that, though the facilities may be few, the teaching would be of good quality to give the children a decent education.
Pray for the churches (like the one above) that seek to bring help and trauma healing to refugees.
Pray for those who remained behind in South Sudan to run schools and health centres, facing hunger and danger.
St Michael’s Link
John and Poppy Spens are our link with The Brickworks at St Michael’s. They’re always happy to chat more about the difference that The Brickworks is making, and the opportunities and challenges ahead for the charity and their partners in South Sudan.
There’s lots more information at www.thebrickworks.org.uk