Vicar to retire

Fred Taban

read Fred’s story

Fred is 49 years old and has a wife, Peris Pita, and the care of nine children: six are his own and three are his late brother’s. They all live in a refugee camp in Northern Uganda, even though they are South Sudanese. They have not been able to return home since the war due to Fred’s lack of finance and a motorcycle accident.

Fred came to the UK in 2014 to spend two years studying Theology and Developmental Studies at All Nations College, Ware in Hertfordshire.

Fred’s story

Everyone who met Fred Taban during his week-long stay in Broad Chalke found him to be a charming man and a very eloquent speaker.

He was born in 1966 in Adjumanji refugee camp in Northern Uganda, where his family had fled during the first Sudanese civil war together with millions of other Sudanese. He recounts that on the day he was born his mother, together with the rest of his family, was just arriving at the camp in appalling rainy weather. His mother was collapsing under the strain and named her baby ‘Taban’, which means ‘suffering’ in their language.

Young Fred went on to spend three quarters of his life in a refugee camp.

He was selected for schooling because he was considered bright and was taught by an English missionary between 1970 and 1983, reaching the equivalent of ‘O’ Level standard.

In 1984, Fred returned to Liwolo in his native South Sudan, where he trained with the Equatoria Agriculture Program (ERAP) and worked as an Agriculture Extension Officer.

Between 1998 and 2000 Fred attended Bishop Alison Theological College. After the three years of training, he was ordained as a minister in 2001 and became a chaplain and the Bishop’s Diocese Development Coordinator. His current post is that of Academic Dean overseeing training in the College. He frequently preaches in the cathedral.

Fred is married to Peres Pita and they have six children, the oldest eighteen and the youngest four years old. He also cares for his late brother’s three orphans and pays for their schooling as well. Four of his children are currently being sponsored by CRESS, which has been a huge support to him, as all schools in Uganda and South Sudan charge fees.

A motorbike accident in 2010 changed his life and caused him to nearly lose a foot. An Italian doctor at the Missionary Hospital in Kampala refused to amputate his foot, despite severe damage to the ankle. The foot had also started to die because it was 35 days after the accident before he was operated on. Fred had been unable to contact anyone and only after getting in touch with his Bishop, Anthony Poggo, the operation took place with the support of three donors, one being CRESS.

After spending one and a half years in hospital, one leg is now shorter than the other, meaning that he walks with a limp and is in constant pain. Fred is only grateful that his wife, who was on the back of the bike, escaped unhurt and he himself did not sustain any head injuries.

Fred is currently studying for a BA in Theology and Independent Studies at All Nations Christian College in Hertfordshire, supported by a full bursary. The course, which involves Bible and intercultural studies, is two years long, but Fred hopes to return home during the three months’ summer vacation if enough funds can be found to pay for his travel.

With his easy-going nature, Fred seems to have adapted well to life in England, which could not be more different from life at home. His main problem is sleep, as in South Sudan life is sun-centred: you rise with the sun-rise and go to bed when the sun sets.

Fred has a bursary to attend All Nations, but his weekly expenses, i.e. washing; personal items; printing; travel, etc. are not paid and CRESS has been funding him £20 per week to cover these. Sponsorship is hugely meaningful to Fred’s family, as there is no free schooling for the children. If you feel that you would like to offer you support in this way, please contact the Parish Office, who will advise you.

As he is here for two years, it is important for him to be able to go home and see his wife and family for his three month summer holiday. He will bring his wife and family to South Sudan for the three months so that he can work for CRESS in South Sudan.

This required raising quite a significant amount of money for Fred not to have too many worries about feeding his family and allow him to spend time with them, also ensuring that the family’s future crops are planted as Fred’s leg prevents him from doing the work.

So it’s thanks to the people of St Johns in Tisbury, St James in Devizes and the Chalke Valley that some £3000 was raised, which EXACTLY covered what he needs!