As we celebrate today the second anniversary of independence in South Sudan, I am struck by the power of the human will and endurance. As a runner, I often struggle to find the right pace on my runs. Sometimes I am eager to start out fast, only to slow down as I face a long hill ahead of me. As I run, I have learned to look ahead and match my stride with the course in front of me.
Today, South Sudanese around the world celebrate another day of their independence after decades of war and struggle.
The fanfare of a single day, and the festivities are invigorating. Pact, which has operated in South Sudan for more than 10 years, shares in the joyous occasion, as our staff take time to reflect and be with families and loved ones.
But tomorrow, we will continue to face persistent challenges. The course ahead is pocked with limited access to the most basic human needs, particularly to peace, water and justice. Pact’s and our partners’ work addressing these longstanding issues will not produce quick solutions. But there is progress: Our teams in South Sudan are engaging with communities in conflict, providing rural populations with access to clean water, creating legal clinics, and developing the capacity of local organizations to implement projects that meet the needs of the people.
Yet, we know there is much work to be done. Pact is fortunate to have long standing donors such as DANIDA, USAID, and SIDA that understand that the challenges facing South Sudan require a long-term vision and commitment. South Sudan deserves a bright future, but, as with Guor Marial, who competed in the grueling men’s marathon under the Olympic flag in honor of South Sudan in the 2012 London games, the road ahead is not a short one. Pact celebrates today, and tomorrow we continue to lean forward and climb the long hill before us, together with our South Sudanese partners.