Helping Thousands Fleeing Violence and Facing Starvation in South Sudan

Publication Date: 
January 10, 2017

While 2016’s Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy is now behind us, Salesian missionaries around the world continue to perform acts of kindness in service to the poor. In South Sudan -- where escalating hostilities have already displaced more than two million people -- Father David Tulimelli has fed as many as 4,000 refugees facing a life threatening food shortage.

Fr. David serves as a priest at St. Vincent de Paul parish, which operates Don Bosco Gumbo -- a Salesian community just outside the capital city of Juba. It includes primary and secondary schools, a youth oratory, a formation center for novices, and administrative offices. Beginning in July 2016, the community also became a refugee center when thousands of frightened South Sudanese, many of whom were women and children, stormed the gates in a desperate search for protection.

“Our community has earned widespread respect throughout the region,” explains Fr. David, “and people knew our grounds would be safe from attack. We welcomed the refugees with open arms, despite the hardships we have faced in providing adequate and ongoing humanitarian aid.”

In order to augment the Salesians’ limited resources, Fr. David coordinated a partnership with World Vision, an international relief agency, to help provide the refugees with life-saving food. Donations from good people like you, helped pay to ship the food to feed these desperate people.

“At one point, our own supplies ran out for two months, and 37 people who were weakened by hunger died from cholera. We felt helpless, and did not want it to happen again. This partnership has been crucial.”

In fact, 4,000 men, women, and children who otherwise may not have been able to eat, received life-saving meals thanks to Fr. David’s planning and foresight, and the generosity of World Vision and caring people who gave what they could.

Experts warn that parts of South Sudan are on the brink of famine. New research shows that the failure to provide necessary interventions will likely result in millions more experiencing the highest levels of food insecurity ever recorded in South Sudan. 

Today, more than 3,000 people remain housed at the temporary refugee center. This is why Fr. David and Salesian missionaries throughout the country continue to assess the situation and are working within their global networks to access additional humanitarian aid.

“With the grace of God, and the support of our generous friends, we will succeed,” he says.

Our mission provides life-saving aid to victims of war, violence and disaster around the world. What’s your mission?

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