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Hope for a nation
The region of South Sudan has been at war at various points since 1955 with the first war between the north and south from 1955 to 1972 and the second war from 1983 to 2005 when a Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed. On 9 th July 2011, South Sudan gained independence. On December 15 th , 2013, South Sudan descended into civil war that is still on going. Decades of war have wreaked havoc among the civilian population with mass displacement, slavery, mass killings, rape, torture and loss of property. Very few countries have experienced the trauma of war that South Sudan has witnessed and endured. Women and girls are said to have particularly experienced heart drenching rape and gang rape during these periods of war.
They continue to carry the burden of taking care of entire families, since their husbands are in most cases forced recruits of the army, killed in the war or simply missing.
Development, Community and other Grassroot Organizations are at the heart of providing trauma support, striving on even in the face of violence to comprehend and establish solutions to the effects of this trauma on communities. Eve Organization is one of the organizations at the forefront of such initiatives, striving to create sustainable solutions to these effects through development programs for women.
In May 2017 Eve Organization brought together representatives from Government, leaders of Community Based Organizations (CBOs), Universities and elders from some communities, to build awareness and capacity around issues of trauma, Sexual and Gender Based Violence and the importance of psychosocial responses. The participants were able to discuss cases from the community, identify survivor risk and protective factors, and learned to develop psychosocial needs and subsequent interventions. They are now able to follow a client centered approach to intervention and can now follow the guidelines of the Inter Agency Standing Committee (IASC)for program implementation.
This is not our war, we were told
“We did not bring you here; we did not cause war in your country, don't disturb us” we were told... Laments Nyoka, one of the refugees in Kiryandongo camp – Uganda- April 2017
The pleasant and cool morning of Kampala quickly turned into a hot and windy day as we drove towards Kiryandongo – MagaMaga Refugee Camp in Bweyale – Uganda. After a short ladies chitchat with the team, we began updating each other on the latest news from home (South Sudan) and as it had been since July 2016, no good news comes from South Sudan apart from the news of attacks, killings, rapes and exodus of the people from their villages. “My heart always drops, whenever I see an incoming call from South Sudan,” said one of my colleagues. It's the obvious sad news; we have all had the same experience. Suddenly we were all quiet, lost in our thoughts as we try to visualize what lies ahead of us.
As the conflict took its toil in the Equatoria region after July 2016, the merciless arms of violence killed hundreds, destroyed livelihood, burnt down villages and drove hundreds of thousands of families from their villages into Uganda worsening the already complex situation. Not knowing what to anticipate as we approach Kiryandongo, we held our hands and prayed.
Hitting the rough and dusty road and as the nice bungalows vanish, clusters of mud and grass hatched huts emerged, then one after the other the sight of bare chest and bare foot children caught our attention. This quickly reminded me of the 1990s “Jaborona” and “Jebel Aulia” camps in Khartoum - Sudan. Memories that had stuck in my mind since childhood; of how South Sudanese survived the discrimination of the Sudan government and the police brutality, the feeling of sleeping on an empty stomach and of the United Nations World Food Programme (UN-WFP) and Fellowship for African Relief (FAR) as our lifeline; and here we are again; Kiryandongo refugees settlement - Uganda.