Thursday, 20 August 2009

Br Bill On A Mission

Thanks to Br Declan for sourcing the following article for us.


De La Salle Brother Bill Firman from the District of Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea has been appointed head of a new Teacher Training College in
Malakal, Southern Sudan.

Brother Firman will officially commence the role in mid September. The move has come after responding to a request of the De La Salle Brothers' Head Office in Rome
for two volunteers to assist the Solidarity with Southern Sudan (SSS) initiative. SSS has been developed through the combined efforts of leaders of more than 20 religious orders to help the Sudanese people rebuild their lives after the devastation of Africa’s longest running civil war. The De La Salle Brothers are taking the lead role in the development of teacher education.

After more than 21 years of war in Sudan, what’s left is a region where the infrastructure has been utterly devastated – roads, telecommunications, schools and hospitals have been completely destroyed. The rebuilding is now in progress following a peace Agreement reached in 2005. “To rebuild a society and a country the most important element is competent
personnel,” said Brother Bill. Brother Bill was serving as Principal of De La Salle College Malvern in Melbourne when the call came for volunteers in Sudan. At 66, he is a four time Principal and former CEO of BoysTown. He departs Australia on August 30.

“I will assist with the development of a four year teacher training programme based on a distance learning model. It will be a new challenge for me but it is one that I am
ready for,” said Brother Bill.

Brother Bill expects this new position will keep him busy for the next 5 – 10 years. “I believe it is important to stand with the Sudanese people in solidarity over a longer term and not just for a year or two,” said Brother Bill.

When news first broke about Br Bill’s decision to volunteer for Sudan, many people questioned him about how he reached such a life altering decision. “There was no earth shattering decision to leap in the dark – just fidelity to the vow I made when I joined the Brothers ‘to go wherever I may be sent and to do whatever may be required of me’,” Brother Bill said.

The Australian Government website bluntly advises people not to go to Sudan but this hasn’t deterred Brother Bill from accepting this next important challenge in his life. “I remain quite at ease about going to Sudan. People have warned me about the potential danger but there is something about getting older that liberates you from fear of the future. I’m going to Sudan because I have something to offer there. I can use my talents and acquired skills to assist the Sudanese people in their efforts to build a new future,” Brother Bill said.

“There is so much in life that is really a test of our inner strength, of the determination of our minds, of the resolution of our wills, of the faith and hope in our hearts. It’s time for me to put my hand up and be counted,” he added.

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