June 26, 2023
By Jacqueline Tucci
PWRDF is providing an annual grant of $16,000 to advance trauma healing and peacebuilding initiatives in South Sudan, thanks to a generous gift from the Ptarmigan Foundation.
In September 2022, the Government of South Sudan Council of Ministers declared the Northern Bahr El Ghazel, Upper Nile and flood-affected parts of Greater Equatorial States national disaster areas. Two consecutive years of flooding and inflation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have drastically worsened poverty in Northern Bahr El Ghazal state. On top of this, violent armed groups continue to cause displacement while intercommunal fighting, cattle raiding and cross-border attacks from Sudan have led to an increasingly insecure situation, especially for women and children. Poor roads, ambushes and hijackings make movement difficult and inhibits humanitarian access to remote areas.
In response to the growing crisis, the Episcopal Church of South Sudan (ECSS) Northern Bahr el Ghazal Internal Province (NBGIP) has been reaching out to local communities for peacebuilding and trauma healing. In June 2022, NBGIP’s Justice, Peace and Reconciliation Officer ran a five-day Wau Multiethnic Peace Dialogue. There were 50 participants from nine different tribes, comprising men and women of Christian and Muslim faith. During August, September and October 2022, NBGIP organized a trauma healing training, a multi-ethnic peace dialogue and a peace update conference which included rebel forces. PWRDF’s grant will enable the NBGIP to reach out to even more communities in need of these initiatives.
In May 2023, PWRDF supported the Rev. William Majok – Program Manager for Church Leaders’ Initiative for Peace, and a certified trainer – to conduct a two-day healing and peacebuilding workshop in Wau with 40 local youth participants. The training was designed to strengthen the capacity of participants, providing youth with skills in mediation and negotiation which they can use to promote healing and peacebuilding activities in their communities.
The training included the fundamentals of negotiation, which future mediators will need to understand, followed by an in-depth course on how mediation works. The training touched on theories of negotiation and mediation as well as strategies for guiding effective negotiations. Increasing the peacebuilding capacities of local youth will ensure more effective and long-term outcomes of their efforts toward peace and social cohesion in their communities.
Following the training, youth participants expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to meet under one roof to discuss the issues and find solutions for peace. Overall, the training had an overwhelmingly positive impact on participants, with many saying they gained much-needed insights and knowledge. Participants also suggested that the wealth of experiences shared during the workshop served as a source of inspiration for cross-cultural cohesion.
With PWRDF’s support, NBGIP plans to organize similar workshops and peace dialogues in several communities this year.