15 December 1998
Dear NSCC Partners and Donors,
I am writing to make a bold and urgent appeal for you to help us take a step for peace in southern Sudan. I am also inviting you to send an observer to experience an indigenous process of people-to-people peacemaking. The Nuer-Dinka Peace and Reconciliation Conference for the west side of the Nile River will begin at the end of January and run for three weeks. If this peace process is successful, it could change the dynamics of the war on the ground in southern Sudan!
We urgently need your financial support!
And we invite you to be present with us, through a representative, for part of the conference!
Let me brief you on the build-up to this historic event. In June 1998, hosted by NSCC, thirty-five Dinka and Nuer chiefs and church leaders spent nine days in Lokichoggio, Kenya in a peace conference. Drawn from the Dinka-Nuer border areas on the west and east sides of the Nile, they came together to see if they could reconcile. For seven years they had been killing each other, stirred up by divide-and-rule tactics and torn by factional divisions. It was a step of faith for the chiefs, for the church leaders, and for the NSCC. Few people believed at that time that anything significant could come from such a meeting.
But the Spirit of reconciliation began to blow. After days of storytelling, people began to perceive their comon heritage and hope began to germinate. One Nuer chief said one morning, "I couldn't sleep at all last night. My body was so happy, because my mind could only think thoughts of peace."
On 10 June 1998 the Nuer-Dinka Loki Accord was signed by all the participants.
A larger peace process was launched by these grass-roots and middle level leaders of the two largest ethnic groups of southern Sudan. The world took little note and even today the quiet but passionate peacemakers in the bush go on without recognition of their labors. Abducted women and children from both sides have been returned to their homes. Abducted girl-wives have been sent back to their parents with invitations to send delegates to negotiate dowries and to consummate proper marriages. Forces along the border areas have been reduced and some movement of people between Dinka and Nuer areas has begun again.
To prepare for the on-site Nuer-Dinka Peace and Reconciliation Conference that was proposed by the chiefs in Loki, hundreds of youth are right now building 150 "toukels" and a meeting lodge to seat 1000 participants. Hundreds of community leaders are being invited and thousands of community members will gather from Dinkaland and Nuerland to observe the process. The conference is expected to last three weeks. A few months later a similar conference will be held on the east side of the Nile. In the midst of famine, the passion of the common people for peace has not been extinguished.
NSCC is the facilitator for this mammoth undertaking. We have had to do much of our work in a quiet way while the organizing and mobilizing was being done in the field. Now we can be quiet no longer. We must have the help of many with hearts for peace for this undertaking to be successful. Help is arriving, but much, much more is needed, and needed urgently.
In this Advent season, when we celebrate God becoming flesh in Jesus Christ, we need for modern day love to take on flesh. We need for you to come join us, and come to our aid as we support the Dinka and Nuer communities in their quest for peace with their neighbors.
In late November in Nairobi we hosted a briefing on the Nuer-Dinka Peace process. Present were several church leaders, one of the chiefs, our newly contracted field peace mobilizers, and the facilitator of the Loki conference. Documents on the Loki Accord and the proposed Peace and Reconciliation Conference were given to all who attended. These documents can be provided to you upon request (see end of message).
The conference is expected to cost up to US$300,000. We are getting some significant gifts-in-kind, particularly for food and the drilling of wells at the conference site. The chiefs on both sides of the river have promised to provide 200 bulls to feed the conferees. The most urgent need now is for funds that can come directly to NSCC, designated exclusively for the Nuer-Dinka Peace Process. Priorities will have to be constantly assessed as we see how much or how little money we have to work with.
At this time, a high priority is for used clothing, food, and goods-for-work for the hundreds of workers who are building the peace conference village. So far, they have worked without any incentives but their passion for peace!
It is time for us to do our part! Elderly chiefs have to be airlifted to the site. Key chiefs from the east of the Nile and from Equatoria need to be flown in as observers so they can take the message of peace back to their areas. Food has to be flown in. We need to buy cooking and eating utensils. We hope to assist in the return of some key Dinka and Nuer leaders from Europe and North America and we need provisions for the facilitating team. I hope you will help immediately.
We also invite the partners of NSCC to consider paying for your own representative to bear witness to this fully indigenous peace process. We will organize flights on January 29, February 5, and February 12 for observers to spend a week on-site. If there are ten people who wish to go on each of these dates, we will divide the cost of the charter flight by ten and arrange the travel. A rough estimate is $600 per person. You can stay for one week and come out on the next flight.
Now it is time for you to respond:
TO TRANSFER FUNDS, send to the following account designated for the Nuer-Dinka Peace Process:
ABN-AMRO Bank N.V.
P.O. Box 30262
SWIFT CODE: ABN KENX
ACCOUNT NO: 1.67.97.019 (Foreign Currency Account)
ACCOUNT NAME: The New Sudan Council of Churches
When you send funds, please also use e-mail to notify NSCC:
Subject: Attention Finance Office
Copy: email@example.com (Dr. Lowrey is assisting to coordinate the funds)
TO APPLY AS AN OBSERVER: Send a letter of request, your repre-sentative's name, two passport photos and a photocopy of the passport by e-mail or fax to NSCC, attention: Ms Caroline Kurtz.
TO REQUEST ELECTRONIC TRANSFER OF DOCUMENTS ON THE PEACE PROCESS:
Contact Dr. William O. Lowrey, who served as the facilitator for the Loki Conference and has been contracted by the Presbyterian Church (USA) and provided on loan to NSCC to facilitate this conference. He can be contacted at the following:
fax and phone: 703-938-5155
As many of you know, this has been a difficult year for NSCC. Praise God, we are moving forward once again. However, our organizational capacity has been reduced. We have hired several people on term contracts and we are grateful to partners who are providing some staff to us on loan just for this effort. We are really stretched. But with your help we can shoulder one of the most important jobs NSCC has ever been asked to do . . . the work of peacemaking, which addresses the root cause of so much of the suffering in the Sudan.
I look forward to your response to this appeal.
Dr. Haruun Ruun
New Sudan Council of Churches