SSCC plants seeds of peace and unity among youth
As South Sudan joins the rest of the world to celebrate the International Day of Peace, the country’s Council of Churches has initiated a robust grassroots peace project aimed at achieving lasting peace in the country.
With the support of Finland Church Aid, the council has initiated Advocating for Promoting Peace and Reconciliation (APPEAR) project which upon its end will be transforming the young people to become peacemakers in the country.
The project which targets young women and men of faith is also aimed at empowering them to spearhead healing and reconciliation among the communities.
APPEAR has now at least 90 members including young women and men from the three greater regions of Equatoria, Upper Nile, and Bahr el Ghazal to advocate for peace and unity among South Sudanese.
As the first of its kind in South Sudan, the network is gaining ground among the citizens in the capital, Juba, and other towns like Malakal and Wau. There are 30 members each in these units. Their demographics entail 15 young women and men forging unity among the community.
“As far as peace is concerned, the youth are the huge force to lay a crucial role in the process,” said Leonard Mambo Andruga, APPEAR Program Advisor and Council of Churches Administrator. “And to that effect, through APPEAR we have separate unique stakeholders that need to be tackled because youth are usually used for destructions, fighting, and a lot of bad things. So when we capture the interest groups of that nature; we have captured the entire stakeholders”.
Mr. Mambo said initially people used to look at youth as the crosscut stakeholders who could easily be misled by some individuals with selfish ambition.
“With the APPEAR project, we envision peaceful South Sudan because we believe in one God as a uniting factor among the people of South Sudan,” he added.
Some of the young women and men spearheading the grassroots reconciliation and healing program among the community in conformity with the Chapter Five of the revitalized peace agreement appreciated APPEAR project for forging unity among South Sudanese.
Butrus Simon Ajok, who represents the youth of Malakal at the South Sudan Council of Churches as a Regional Coordinator for the Upper Nile region thanked the Finland Church Aid for the support that has impacted the lives of the young people in Malakal Protection of Civilian site.
“We the youth are the main tool for fighting. And that has touched my heart to tell my fellow youth that anything that causes harm to your brothers or sisters from another area, let them try to avoid because these brothers of yours will be the ones to stand with you in the future,” said Mr. Simon.
He said that like in Juba and, in Malakal had also initiated the process and had reconciled many young people who have forgiven themselves and accepted to live together as one people.
“God knows why he put us together in one region of South Sudan. God knows because we have a purpose, each one of us regardless of our ethnicity can contribute to the development of our country.” Mr. Simon added.
The project has also taught Arek Francis Malex, South Sudan Council of Churches Youth Coordinator to live in harmony with her neighbors regardless of their ethnicity and regional affiliation.
Ms. Arek has become a role model and a peace ambassador for reconciliation and unity to fellow young South Sudanese in advocating for peaceful coexistence.
“We should learn to tolerate each other, especially the young people, we are the leaders of today not for tomorrow and to achieve that; we have to learn to accept and tolerate each other,” said Ms. Arek. “Be at peace with one another and also work on advocating for the implementation of youth policies in the country that can guide us toward achieving our dream and also guide youth toward participation in decision-making processes.”
Also, the APPEAR peace project has not only given Juan Rachael, Advocacy Coordinator said her skills and opportunity to access resources for advocating for peace and unity among the young South Sudanese across the country.
“Forget about the politicians, as a young person you have a role to play by doing the right thing. So it is about the leadership as a young person and leadership is about doing the right thing,” said Ms. Rachael.