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Gabe Hurrish

Year Joined MKLM: 2017

Country: South Sudan

Rural Area: Kuron Peace Village, Eastern Equatoria 

Ministry: Holy Trinity Peace Village – Kuron (HTPVK): education (nursery to secondary), health services, agriculture and food security, socio-economic development, peace building

Ministry Area: Justice and Peace

Goals of Ministry: At HTPVK we work to reduce violence and conflict among the various ethnic groups in the area due to cattle raids and child abductions. We do this through peace intervention, education, health and socio-economic development.

Ministry Context:

South Sudan became the newest country in the world in 2011. However it has been crippled with inter-tribal and intra-ethnic violence and conflicts throughout the country for the past 50 years. Entire generations of children are growing up in this toxic environment. Holy Trinity Peace Village is attempting to mediate, diminish and eliminate this culture of revenge and help people to be united in love and respect. All programs are designed to move people away from violence and toward more reconciliation and settlement of disagreements in a nonviolent manner.​

 

Current Ministry:

Gabe is currently living in the Holy Trinity Peace Village, located in the isolated eastern regions of South Sudan near the Ethiopian border. Kuron is located some 160 miles (250 km) from the nearest town of Kapoeta. A handmade gravel airstrip serves as the only connection in the rainy season as roads are impassable for up to six months every year.

Gabe provides administrative support to the staff of Holy Trinity Peace Village. He produces a monthly donor and supporter newsletter highlighting the accomplishments, impacts and challenges of each of the programs. Gabe visits project operational sites in order to gather data and documentation. He also assists with computer issues and editing of reports and grant applications.

Gabe often walks to villages to interview Toposa elders and others to get their stories and opinions for use in program design. He writes the success stories of students for those who sponsor the education programs. He maintains all the archives and has created a historical record of the 21-year-old Kuron Peace Village. Gabe also maintains the records for office supplies. As the only non-African in the area, Gabe’s presence has certain impacts beyond words. People are curious about why he would want to live in this place and this presents a unique opportunity to share his faith and commitment to world peace.

 

Personal Data:

Gabe is a parishioner at St. Bartholomew Church in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, in the Diocese of La Crosse. He has a master in public health from the University of Boston and a bachelor of science from the University of Dayton in health, education and school health administration. Gabe obtained his certification as a nursing assistant from Mid-State Technical College (Wisconsin). He enjoys learning languages, having studied six besides English, including Amharic (the language in Ethiopia), Spanish, and Mandarin Chinese.

Gabe’s inspiration in life has always been an uncle who was a Franciscan T.O.R. priest and served for 33 years in India and Brazil. Gabe was well aware of Maryknoll Lay Missioners over the years, and so he reached out to its director of missions, Marj Humphrey, about joining. At the time, Maryknoll Lay Missioners was not in South Sudan, but Gabe was very interested in working there, so Maryknoll Lay Missioners made it possible. Having already served in Africa over 10 years, he has now returned to South Sudan as a long-term Maryknoll lay missioner. There is also one Maryknoll priest in the north of the country working in a Protection of Civilians Camp in Malakal.

Gabe has lived and worked overseas in several different relief, development and mission organizations for almost 30 combined years in 11 countries, many in Africa. While with the Peace Corps in Kenya in the 1980s, he worked on water projects. He was the medical director of two refugee camp hospitals with American Refugee Committee and for four years served in Ethiopia with Food for the Hungry International. He also did some development consulting in Kenya, Uganda, Somalia, South Africa and Peru. Gabe was the Central American Coordinator of the Volunteer Missionary Movement in El Salvador for almost four years. After that, he worked for the Association for International Teaching, Educational and Curriculum Exchange (AITECE Ltd) in China as an English professor in three different institutions. In 1998 Gabe was offered a dual post in Rome, Italy, with the international men (USG) and women religious (UISG) office for Justice, Peace, Integrity of Creation (JPIC) and the Solidarity with South Sudan secretariat. Gabe also served in South Africa with the Southern Africa Catholic Bishops Conference for a short time.

After his return to the U.S. in 2010, he served for seven years as the coordinator of religious education at St. Stephen Parish in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. In the summer of 2016, he volunteered as professor in South Sudan at the Solidarity Teacher Training College in Yambio. The following year he returned to serve there with Maryknoll Lay Missioners for 18 months before being transferred to Juba in August 2019 to serve as Project Officer for Solidarity. Since October 2020 he has been working in the remote project of Holy Trinity Peace Village Kuron, Eastern Equatoria of South Sudan.