Year Joined MKLM: 2017
Country: South Sudan
Rural Area: Kuron, Eastern Equatoria State
Ministry: Holy Trinity Peace Village
Ministry Area: Justice and Peace
Goals of Ministry: Building a model community where people with different ethnic and religious backgrounds can live side by side in harmony and fellowship.
Kuron Holy Trinity Peace Village in remote southeastern South Sudan provides education (nursery to secondary), health services, food security, agriculture training and peace advancement. It is located some 160 miles (250 km) from the nearest town of Kapoeta.
The Toposa of the Kuron area are marginalized and have few social services and little infrastructure. The first rural road through this area from Narus to Boma, where the Holy Trinity Peace Village Kuron is located, was opened by Bishop Emeritus Paride Taban in 2005 with help from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. During rainy seasons (April to November), this road is unusable and communities are inaccessible. This leaves air transport as the only and most expensive option in and out of Kuron on the handmade murram airstrip north of the Peace Village.
The Kuron Toposa do not have consistent, ready access to markets and services. In Narus, Boma and Kapoeta trade has been limited to essential commodities, and local communities were cut off from the rest of the world during the more than 25 years of the Sudanese Civil War. The Toposa lifestyle revolves around keeping of cattle. Cattle are exchanged for women as dowries and are a key source of food or cash. Girls, some as young as 12 years old, are given to men for marriage in exchange for 80 to 200 cows depending on the status of the man. The cattle are accumulated by older men, and hence young men are forced to go cattle raiding to afford marriage.
Kuron Peace Village works to stop and develop alternatives to cattle raiding, which causes conflicts and death in the communities. The village works to diversify traditional food supplies and holds peace meetings, agricultural training and runs educational institutes. The only operational clinic for more than a hundred miles around, the Kuron Health Clinic provides crucial healthcare to the general population.
At Holy Trinity Peace Village, Gabe assists the village’s founder, Emeritus Bishop Paride Taban; and executive director, Father Henry Gidudu, with management, administration, planning, donor relations, fundraising, finance and communications. Gabe often visits project operational sites in order to gather data and documentation. He also assists with computer issues, editing of reports and grant applications.
Recent floods (July and September 2020) have destroyed the foot bridge and damaged the vehicle bridge, which were the only links to the north of the Kuron River. Efforts are being made to find donors willing to assist in the rebuilding of the two bridges vital to the project’s activities.
Gabe’s inspiration in life has always been an uncle, who is a Franciscan T.O.R. priest and served for 33 years in India and Brazil. Before joining Maryknoll Lay Missioners, he coordinated religious education at St. Stephen Parish in his hometown of Stevens Point, Wisconsin. He has a master’s degree 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 has lived and worked overseas in several different relief, development and mission organizations in 11 countries — many in Africa — for almost 28 combined years. He started out with the Peace Corps in Kenya and later served with the American Refugee Committee and Food for the Hungry International. He has also been a development consultant in Kenya, Uganda, Somalia, South Africa and Peru, served with the Volunteer Missionary Movement in El Salvador, and worked as an English professor in China. Gabe worked for the Solidarity with South Sudan secretariat in Rome, which eventually inspired his return to South Sudan with Maryknoll Lay Missioners in 2018. He worked for two and a half years with Solidarity with South Sudan at their Teacher Training College in Yambio and as a project officer in Juba before relocating to Holy Trinity Peace Village Kuron in October 2020.