The Culture of South Sudan
- Living conditions in Yambio are somewhat primitive compared to the United States. Most households do not have
indoor plumbing, electric power, or a flushing toilet.
- Roads in Yambio are dry weather roads with no single tarmac road in the town. However, things are improving!
- The market in Yambio offers almost everything in terms of clothes and other items, but it is limited in the groceries
- The guesthouse in the seminary compound is equipped with bathroom facilities like flushing toilets (toilet paper included), a solar heated shower and a sink for face and hand washing. Water is pumped from a groundwater well to the two small reservoirs at the top of the guesthouse. Whenever the pump is out of order, a commercial water truck refills the reservoirs.
- Bedrooms are furnished with a wooden bed, foam mattress, linens, blanket and pillows. Your room also has a table and chair, a cooling floor fan, and a clothing rack with a few clothing hangers.
- The guest house is powered by solar panels that provide light to the guest house and help to charge laptops/ cellphones, etc. Power is available during most of the day and a few hours into the night due to depleting battery storage.
- The guesthouse and the church clinic are in the same compound with an iron gate guarded by watchmen day and night.
- The visiting instructor can leave laundry outside his bedroom door and a worker picks them up each morning to wash and iron them. When you depart, a word of gratitude and gratuity is welcome for this service.
- Your mobile phone may or may not be usable in South Sudan. Only unlocked smart phones that accept SIM cards (purchased in Juba) and/or carriers like T-Mobile, Verizon, AT&T with roaming service may work in South Sudan.
- Messaging Apps like WhatsApp, Viber, Facebook Messenger and Telegram work in South Sudan where Wi-Fi is available (hotels, airport and at the ELCSS/S compound).
- You may also ask CLIHM’s principal for a Wi-Fi passcode. The church Wi-Fi has strong signal only around the bishop’s office and the sanctuary.
- Wi-Fi service can also be purchased at several places in Yambio town which is a 20 minute walk from the guesthouse.
- The water in Yambio is not potable. All water used for food or drink should come from bottled water purchased by LHF and stored in your room by CLIHM staff. You can ask the principal when there is a need.
- All cooked food may be eaten but may not be familiar to an American palate! Most local foods are tasty and healthy. Lots of greens are served, including many kinds of leaves, like pumpkin and cassava. Meals are simple but ample. Meats mainly consist of chicken, goat and beef. French fries also have been served. Desserts include pineapple, bananas, mangos or oranges depending on the season. Yambio is a pineapple state, as displayed on its seal.
- Breakfast includes scrambled eggs and fresh bread with instant coffee or black tea. Every meal has a hot water bottle for coffee or tea. The noon meal varies, and is usually the largest serving of the day. Typically, it can include rice, cassava, baked beans, bread, chicken, beef sauce, pasta soups and a banana. Evening meal can be sweet potato with fresh peanut butter or rice with chicken soup.
- The table is loaded with spices as many instructors bring their favorite with them: crushed red pepper, black pepper, salt, curry, and a variety of other spices (check expiry dates before use). Usually there is margarine, jam, sugar and toothpicks on the large staff table.
- It’s customary in South Sudan to wash your hands with soap and water in a sink at the dining hall before and after you eat. You should bring a bottle of water from your room if you desire water with your meal. The other option is hot coffee or tea.
Yambio is located near the equator (only four degrees north) with a tropical climate characterized by hot and humid conditions. The floor fan in your room has three speeds and is extremely helpful in making the stay enjoyable.
Clear skies of the morning hours usually are followed by torrential rains in the afternoon that also help in moderating the otherwise sweltering weather. However, there can be severe lightning, and occasionally someone is killed by a lightning strike.
In Yambio, the summers are short, hot, humid and overcast, and the winters are long, warm, wet and mostly cloudy. Over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from 66°F to 95°F and is rarely below 60°F or above 103°F. The hot season lasts for 1.8 months, from January 23 to March 18, with an average daily high temperature above 92°F. The hottest month of the year in Yambio is February, with an average high of 94°F and low of 68°F. The cool season lasts for 6.1 months, from May 5 to November 9, with an average daily high temperature below 84°F. The coldest month of the year in Yambio is July, with an average low of 67°F and high of 82°F.
- There is no standard dress code at CLIHM. The type of clothing you enjoy is fine as a visiting instructor (it would be helpful to review the weather information provided above when packing your clothes). Some instructors teach in a short sleeved shirt and tie, long trousers, and shoes. Others wear pullover t-shirts and shorts or Bermudas or long trousers. Some bring mostly clergy type clothes with Alb, cincture and stole.
- Clergy will want to bring clergy shirts and collars. Albs are available from St. Paul’s congregation or Office of the Bishop.
- Visiting professors usually give away extra clothing and clergy shirts to seminarians or local pastors if they will not stopover in other African countries for short stay or ministry on their return trip.
Although the Evangelical Lutheran Church South Sudan/Sudan strongly discourages the practice, people in Yambio (students, pastors, church members, etc.) may visit with you asking for help or submitting a written request to help them with a special need. The magnitude of poverty you observe in your new neighborhood may require striking a balance between being firm and fair. Let the Spirit guide you in making decisions of assisting those who are needy. As Jesus said, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesars and unto God what is Gods.”
- Visiting instructors are invited guests to serve with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in South Sudan/Sudan. Your presence will be marked by Christlike humility and love. This basically includes respecting and walking hand in hand with the leaders of the ELCSS/S as brothers in Christ despite differences in some areas of church work.
- Speaking the truth in love cannot be overemphasized especially in a cross-cultural communication where listening takes precedence in a conversation.
- There are dos and don’ts that visitor should be aware of to avoid giving offense. Some are obvious and some must be learned, often the hard way. The use of the left hand to pay someone, lack of fairness, giving some more attention than others, not accepting the locals as equals or the way we phrase and use a common word or use food or drink carelessly may upset or even turn someone away from being a friend in Christ. As a male visiting instructor, hugging a local female in the wrong way or time, for instance, can be insulting or degrading to a Christian woman.
- Dangers that may bring personal physical harm are basically nonexistent. Visiting instructors, however, do better to be accompanied by someone from the ELCSS/S when leaving the campus. A U.S. State Department warning may look effectless in Yambio.
- If you have food allergies, you may want to ask members of the local faculty if unsure about what food is being served, for there are a wide variety of leaves, roots, and nuts used as food in Yambio that can easily cause food allergies.
- Though infrequent in the CLIHM and church campuses, poisonous snakes and insects are present in Yambio for which you need to take precaution by avoiding walking in tall grass without boots that cover your ankles. As discussed above, malaria is ubiquitous in Yambio and its vicinities, for which you need to take malaria pills periodically.
- The torrential rains (common in the afternoons) are often accompanied by thunder and lightning which usually falls on tall trees and structures without lightning rods. Avoid being out in these storms as much as possible.
- The guesthouse compound has a 24-hour security system where a security guard attends the main gate to the campus. The large metal gate is locked each night at dusk. An eight-foot wire fence (with some holes) encircles the ten acres guesthouse compound. In case you are the only occupant of the guesthouse, you may want to lock the doors to the building you live in each night.
- Personal dangers from the local community are very unlikely to happen, but it is generally advisable to lock your room when you are away for long hours teaching or preaching. This is especially helpful since there are visitors to the medical clinic which shares the same compound with the guesthouse you are staying in (see map in appendix-A for details). The guesthouse is equipped with window grills.