From misery to success, the story of widower Matiop

From misery to success, the story of widower Matiop
Executive Director of Dreams Production Matiop Joseph during his first presentation in Juba. (photo credit: courtesy)

At just 26, Matiop Joseph has seen the grim face of life cutting across fame, disappointment and a promise of a better future. 

The Executive Director of Dreams Productions, who now primes himself as human rights and peace advocate, is a parent bearing the scars of losing a tender age at the same time trying to settle in the country as a returnee.  

Matiop became a widower when his wife Stella Nyangoma, a Ugandan, succumbed due to excessive bleeding during delivery at Kiryandongo Hospital. 

Stella delivered a bouncing baby boy and in the next few hours died due to lack of blood. Her blood group did not match her husband’s and no donor was present to save her life.

“I married in 2017 and due to some circumstances related to the high rates of maternal mortality in some hospitals, my wife succumbed while she was giving birth. I am a widower blessed with one son,” Matiop recalled in an interview with The City Review.

Matiop said that since losing his wife, he assumed the role of both parents to raise his son who is now aged 4 years. Becoming a widower at just 22 was a huge blow to his life, but one that changed his mindset and groomed him for the subsequent social projects to help society. 

Matiop who currently works with Finn Church Aid South Sudan as a youth peer educator embarked on co-founding Dreams Production with other friends to help the disadvantaged South Sudanese living in refugee settlements in Uganda.

Solidarity with women

He has been running Dreams Productions through petty funding from well-wishers. But through limited funding, he now puts a smile on the faces of women through the provision of necessary needs during delivery.

“Women accessing maternal services are supported every 1st of the New Year, this is to commemorate my late wife and stand in solidarity with women at maternal wards,” he explained. 

“I enrolled at least two mothers to support at Panyadoli Health Centre in Uganda. This comes from the little resources I make throughout the year. I save some money and invite the most vulnerable people to come and celebrate life with me at every beginning of the year.”

The organisation has been providing psychosocial support to vulnerable persons and has sponsored 10 children to school in refugee settlements in Uganda.

Matiop said they have been supporting local communities by installing 100 taps to combat COVID-19 in elderly homes. 

He revealed that he aims to achieve the United Nations sustainable development goals through the provision of technical skills to youth through tailoring, catering, hairdressing, and electrical engineering.

He said this can be achieved through the creation of jobs for the vulnerable youth to eradicate poverty.

“I hope the government of South Sudan considers Sustainable Development Goals as part of their key priorities,” he said during his first presentation in Juba.

“If we tackle child marriage by strengthening birth and marriage registration systems, work with communities and strong institutions at all levels to understand and effectively apply the law, this can build a fairer South Sudan.”

Global recognition

Matiop’s efforts were recognised by friends who nominated him in 2019 for the Humanitarian Awards Ghana. He attributed his nomination to proper usage of social media basically for peace. 

He won the best sustainable development goals award and was in the same event nominated and granted a Global peace Ambassador position by Global Peace Chain.

“This has become a motivation to me and I am happy that I can also be nominated by my fellow youth who are willing to advocate for the 17 sustainable goals,” he said.

He was again nominated in 2021 but was unable to go to Ghana due to financial constraints and travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I engage young South Sudanese youths to ensure they adapt and learn more about the sustainable development goals, when they are implemented, South Sudan will develop faster.”

Coping with challenges

Being in the country has served him some challenges that mirror the struggles of returnees.

He recalled how his Refugee Identity Card was broken into pieces in Juba by a soldier upon realising that he still had refugee status.

“I was driving out of UNMISS camp but it was a bit late so the security stopped me, he checked the car but everything was okay. Another soldier came in and asked me to introduce myself. Since I didn’t know Arabic, I removed my wallet and my refugee ID was seen. He asked me to present it to him but after staring at it, he broke it and took me to the commander who later resolved the problem,” he explained.

According to him, some soldiers and the police consider returnees as cowards for fleeing the country during the conflict.

 “Working here has given me confidence and direct access to meet with officials whom I think can contribute towards the sustainable development goals. There is a need for stability and educating military and police about human rights,” he said. 

He recalled that one time he introduced himself during a forum in Juba as someone who has been a refugee and he was immediately stopped from speaking.

Motivations

Matiop was motivated by Save the Children International that recruited him after he completed his Secondary Education as a Community Based Mobilizer in April 2016. 

In 2017, he joined Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative which gave him skills in conflict resolution, education, and business skills training. He later joined a video advocacy course with the Refugee Law Project to advance his knowledge on the use of media for social change.

“Working with Children in different child-friendly spaces melt my heart and gave me a reason to stand for the South Sudanese community,” he said. 

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