Nearly a year after a massive outbreak of violence in the greater Tambura region of western Equatoria that left tens of thousands of people displaced and countless others killed or injured, there is a gradual return of calm and stability.
However, much remains to be done to ensure that community members begin the healing process and regain their confidence.
Recognizing that the trauma of past violence is still fresh in people’s minds, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is continuing all efforts to promote reconciliation, protect communities and create lasting peace here. to build.
A recent initiative by the UN peacekeeping mission and local implementing partner, Anika Women’s Organization, brought together some 60 displaced people in a three-month skills training course.
Forty women and 20 men learned the intricacies of cosmetics making, beekeeping, conflict mitigation and financial management.
The goal: To enable conflict-affected people to gain economic independence, increase their resilience and develop them into local ambassadors of peace and progress.
The efforts of the mission are appreciated by the participants, as expressed by 28-year-old Ngpadai Lilian, whose husband was murdered last year. This young widow has two children and what she has learned in these 90 days will enable her to raise them.
“I am full of gratitude to Anika Women’s Organization and our international friend, UNMISS,” said Ngpadai. “I now know how to make soaps, lotions and shampoos and am looking forward to starting my own business and raising my children well,” she proudly adds.
Ngbapai is not alone in envisioning a brighter, more prosperous future thanks to such workshops.
Vincent Arkangelo, a father of four, had fled South Sudan during previous civil wars and did not return to his native village in Western Equatoria until August 2021.
Unfortunately, Vincent and his family were once again in turmoil soon after their return. But now this initiative has given him hope as he has become an adept beekeeper.
“The experience I have gained in modern beekeeping will help me support my children and I promise to pass my knowledge on to other members of the community who could not benefit from this skills training. Beekeeping is now my source of income and with a bit of luck the honey I harvest will soon sell on the market,” he says with a smile.
Such heartfelt testimonials make Amelia Yabang, executive director of Anika Women’s Association, feel that she and her colleagues are doing valuable work.
“The women who have been helped to make a living through this training will become ambassadors of lasting peace and a beacon of hope for their communities in the future,” she says. “We are grateful that UNMISS has given us the privilege to collaborate on this special project that has had a hugely positive impact,” she added.
For his part, the State Minister for Youth and Sports, David Simbi, emphasized the beneficial effect of such initiatives on young people in the state, given the widespread unemployment.
“My dearest wish is that all beneficiaries of this program use what they have learned to suppress the culture of war and empower themselves and their fellow community members. To help young people start their own businesses, the state government has decided to introduce cash loans for young entrepreneurs as we believe it will help usher in progress and development in Western Equatoria,” said Minister Simbi.
UNMISS hopes that this project will give new impetus to the pursuit of lasting peace, as well as promote community stability and resilience.
“Such projects aim to support socio-economic development in Western Equatoria and thus contribute to the overall recovery and prosperity in South Sudan,” reveals Christopher Murenga, head of the mission’s field office in Yambio.
However, the effects of the conflict in Tambura are still visible: many people continue to seek refuge in the refugee camps. But with a little help from international friends, the communities here are slowly finding their way to a more peaceful future.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).