The goal of our work is to establish sustainable access to safe water and the gospel by radio. We do this by partnering with the South Sudanese to build the infrastructure, the systems, and the leadership necessary for a thriving and peaceful nation. Access and sustainability are the two core values we focus on in designing our programs.
We recognize that many of South Sudan's challenges are centered around a lack of access. Our water program seeks to provide communities with the most basic of human needs – access to safe water. Our radio program seeks to provide communities with the most important of spiritual needs – access to the gospel.
Providing such access begins with investment in infrastructure but also includes investment in the systems it takes to support the infrastructure. We never want to take a short-term approach to a long-term problem. Whenever we do build infrastructure – whether a water well or a radio tower – we work with the community to establish the systems it takes to maintain these infrastructure projects into the future.
We drill water wells in areas with no access to safe water, and we build radio stations in areas with little access to the word of God in the mother tongue. Before implementing a project, we perform needs assessments and focus our investments in areas that have high need along with high local ownership.
A new water well helps no one in the long-term if there is not access to the spare parts necessary for ongoing maintenance. So we give access to these parts by establishing local supply chains that support local repair services.
A radio station impacts no one if there is not access to the broadcast in the homes and marketplaces of would-be listeners. So we give access to radio broadcasts by distributing solar-powered radios through local church leaders.
Providing access to safe water and the gospel is short-lived without a commitment to sustainability. So we take a multi-generational approach when designing our programs. We want the provision of safe water and the gospel by radio to be fully owned, operated, and financed by the South Sudanese.
Leadership development is the most critical element to operational sustainability and requires heavy investment in people. Without local leaders, South Sudan won't be able to build their nation for Christ. So we host workshops, conferences, and on-the-job training to raise up a new generation of South Sudanese leaders.
In our water program, we provide certification courses for local pump mechanics to establish a network of qualified service providers. In our radio program, we lead Bible training specifically developed for local pastors to partner with the local church.
Although South Sudan currently requires outside investment, the South Sudanese are ready to come alongside the work financially. So we provide the dignity of partnership by asking communities to financially support the ministry.
Our water teams collect annual service fees that allow ongoing maintenance and repair systems to expand. We also charge for solar-powered radios, and every batch we deliver has sold out before they even arrive. To finance our radio operations, we hold annual listener support campaigns on the radio asking listeners to contribute to the radio ministry. Over the last several years, tens of thousands of South Sudanese listeners have contributed tens of thousands of dollars toward the work of the radio stations.
One of the most basic human needs is safe water. And around 50% of the South Sudanese don't have enough. We've spent years establishing an underlying infrastructure by drilling water wells. There's still a need for more, but we've also started addressing the systemic issues behind the shortage – that is, access to spare parts and training. And so we partner with local communities to give them the tools they need to properly maintain their supply of safe water for good.
The simple fact is there just aren't enough water wells in South Sudan to meet the needs of the population. Many areas have water wells that are overworked and breaking down, while other areas have no water wells at all. So we work with local drilling contractors to bring new wells to areas with the greatest need. As a new well is installed, our teams engage community leadership to set up water committees and provide basic hygiene training.
A water well without a maintenance plan is pointless. One of the biggest obstacles preventing sustainable water wells in South Sudan is a lack of access to spare parts. So when a well does break, there is no way for a community to get it back up and running. This is because there is no functioning supply chain in South Sudan. So we are meeting this systemic gap by establishing local spare parts stores that can work with local pump mechanics to provide for a functioning maintenance and repair program.
There simply aren't enough water wells in South Sudan to provide villages with safe water, and so we identify the most vulnerable communities to drill new wells.
When wells break, communities don't have anywhere to purchase spare parts, and so we meet the demand of the market by supplying spare parts to local pump mechanics.
We have discovered that communities in South Sudan are willing to pay for the services they use, and so we ask them to pay annual service fees to maintain their wells.
In a nation where 3 out of 4 people can't read or write, radio is the best way to reach the population. Our community radio stations broadcast gospel content (Bible stories, local preaching, church music) and community development programs (health, education, agriculture, social issues) in the local dialects. We then distribute solar-powered radios to our areas of broadcast. Each radio reaches an average of 7-10 people with the gospel. The three stations currently operating in our radio network reach about 1 out of every 4 South Sudanese, and we're continuing to grow the impact as we build more stations in our network and distribute more solar-powered radios to listeners.
Due to South Sudan's flat topography, the coverage area of each of our radio stations extends more than 50 miles radius. We also construct a local recording studio and station office for our local radio staff. Each station is powered by a combination of solar batteries and backup generators which enable the broadcast during morning and evening hours. As community radio stations, our staff produce their own shows in studio and then broadcast the daily programs through FM frequencies. The stations are also a big part of community life - hosting music competitions, pastor conferences, and other community events.
A radio broadcast without an audience is fruitless. So in addition to broadcasting, we also distribute solar-powered radios within our listener regions. The radios are fixed-tuned to our station ensuring that every person who receives a radio can access the word of God every day on radio. It costs only $20 to manufacture and ship each radio to South Sudan. We then sell the radios for a small cost to the South Sudanese to give them the dignity of ownership and participation in the ministry. Every time we bring a batch of radios, they sell out before they even arrive. The demand is that high.
We know that Jesus Christ is the hope of South Sudan, and so we unabashedly share this Good News along with other community-based programs in local dialects every day on our radio broadcasts.
We want to get a solar-powered radio in every home within our broadcast areas, and so we work with local pastors to bring payments, collect radios, and deliver them to the remotest of villages.
We believe that radio should be locally sustained, and so we ask local churches to financially support the daily operations of the stations through annual listener support campaigns.
If we want to see a nation built for Christ, we will need to see a people built for Christ. South Sudan will only grow into a peaceful and prosperous nation when its leaders lead with righteousness and its people have the resources and opportunities to improve their society. This is why we invest in the people of South Sudan first and foremost. We do this by focusing on job creation and training. Our water, radio, and support staff are developing the skills and character needed to become leaders of their nation. We fly in technical experts, Bible trainers, and volunteers on short-term trips to pour into the South Sudanese. Each trip builds upon the last leaving a cumulative impact.
It is known in development work that job creation is one of the most impactful benefits for a growing economy. The people need jobs, not handouts. We take this seriously and are privileged to employ a team of passionate South Sudanese committed to building their nation for Christ. From managing facilities to monitoring projects to hosting programs, our South Sudanese team is on the front lines of our ministry every day. In addition to employing them, we provide on-the-job training and leadership development to raise up the next generation of nation-builders.
In addition to investing in our own people, we also focus on building up the communities in which we work. Our radio stations and their facilities provide the perfect means for hosting various conferences and workshops throughout the year. We hold annual pastor conferences attended by over 1,000 pastors eager to be equipped. We also provide hygiene workshops, pump mechanic certifications, Bible trainings, and other community-oriented topics. Our goal is to holistically educate every village as they seek to build their own nation.
We believe that the local church is the way to reach every village of South Sudan with the gospel, and so we spend much of our efforts on equipping local pastors.
Building a nation holistically requires qualified leaders in the many sectors of the marketplace, and so we seek to raise up a generation of leaders in radio and water.
We understand that no ministry program is sustainable without leaders to manage its future, and so we focus as much on leadership development as we do on financial sustainability.
Traveling to South Sudan is a truly unique experience. Our trips build on each other to have a cumulative impact. They also are life-changing for those who go.
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