By Irene Lamunu
For 150 years, the Comboni Missionaries have traveled to nearly every corner of the world sharing the good news of Christ and working to protect the dignity of all people, working in unstable political climate, in the midst of extreme poverty.
Comboni Missionaries – Moyo, have not been exempted from that charisma . They have worked in war-torn South Sudan and continue to work with the unprevilladged refuguees. Recently they organised a peace camp for South Sudanese refugee children in Moyo. They brought together children from different refugee camps to attend a peace camp. The Coordinator of the project Bro Fafa Ayih, a Comboni missionary said the peace camp project begun in December 2018 to involve children in creating peace in South Sudan.
The main reason for the peace camp was to involve children in the peace process in South Sudan. Brother Fafa said “The work of peace building, trauma healing is a big and complex work we need to work on for the growth of the displaced children.” He added that when the children come together and become friends, their parents will interact and become friends and that will spread peace in the whole community. In December, the project registered 100 children for the peace workshop. This year in March, the peace camp received 100 children for the second stage of the peace workshop and he registered 25 new ones.
The project is funded by Kinder Missionwerk Germany and the facilitators of the peace camp were from the Children’s Peace Initaitive Kenya. The Comboni Missionaries brought in children from different refugee camps; including Kerwa, Moribi, Yumbe and Palorinya. The two workshops have seen children from the Dinka and Kuku tribes coming together, eating together, playing together and sleeping in the same dormitory. The children made friends and did everything together, a sign of peace. Monica Kinyauah who was the facilitator of the workshop and co-founder of Children’s Peace Initaitive Kenya told the children that they were at the peace camp to unite and see how they can become part of creating peace in South Sudan. She encouraged the children to make friends and stop identifying each other by their tribes. “We want to prove that we can stop fighting and we are one, we should help the president create peace. We want the little ones to grow and enjoy peace,” Monica said. She also told the children that if they wanted peace in South Sudan, they have to work hard for it by creating friendships with other tribes. She told them that Peace starts with them as children and they should do their best to create it.
Monica said that children can make families friends, then, bring communities together and that could eventually make peace in Sudan.“Some children made friends, we want to use friendship between children to bring peace in South Sudan,” Commented Monica. She also encouraged the children to preach peace to their parents by telling them that they can be friends despite their tribal difference. Hilary Halkano Bakuno, the CEO and Co-founder, Children Peace Initiative Kenya said the motive behind the children’s camp is to see what children can contribute to peace in their country. He added that, the organisation has been doing peace camps in Kenya with the Pastoral community and it has worked, so, he is sure that this will work with the children from South Sudan.
Mr. Halkano noted that children grow up hearing negativity in their communities which creates a lot of bitterness in them but when they are brought together, they can do positive things that will change their mind and negative attitude. He added that the program is designed to encourage children to initiate friendship with each other, disregarding tribes because this friendship will eventually bring parents of different children together, breaking tension created by tribal conflicts.
The children at the peace camp also believed that through the peace camp, they can contribute to bringing back peace in South Sudan. Many of the children believe that the war in Sudan is caused by the conflict between the Dinka and the Kuku.
Amos Data, a 17 year old senior two student at Kerwa Secondary School said his family left the family home in Kajo Keji to go to a refugee camp because of the war. Data said he believes that the war in Sudan is between two tribes, the Dinka and the Kuku. He said that he believes the peace camp will help him make peace and become friends with Dinka children. He added that since he joined the peace camp, he has learnt the importance of forgiveness and he will regularly forgive.
He added that he wants to go back to Kajo Keji but knows that the only way to achieve that dream is to become friends with each other so that they can create peace.
Sixteen year old, Benneth Nyoma does not go to school anymore because he lost his father in the war and he lost contact with his mother whom he says lives in one of refugee camps, though he does not know where. He and his grandmother used to live in Kerwa village before she passed away. He says that after her death, life became tough for the whole family so he had to pull out of school. He also noted that the misunderstanding between the Dinkas and the Kuku has caused all trouble in South Sudan. He added that he has already made friends with Dinka children. He also said that after this, he will be able to unite with children from other tribes, and he has also learned the importance of love and unity which he is ready to practice.
Bujanga George lives in Matu with his grandmother; he does not go to school because his mother cannot afford his school fees. He said that his father died in a road accident. His mother lives in Bidi Bidi refugee camp with his siblings so he takes care of his grandmother who preferred to go back to the village in South Sudan rather than live in a refugee camp.Buyanga also believes that the disunity between the Dinka and the Kuku is South Sudan’s major problem. The peace camp helped him get Dinka friends. He has also learnt that he should love everyone around him. He added that back home, the Dinka and Kuku live separately, and said it’s high time they came together as one to promote peace. He said he would contribute to peace in South Sudan by telling people back home that they are one; Dinka or Kuku and they should live as one and love each other in order to create peace. Meanwhile, the teachers of the children at the peace camp believe that children for peace is a very positive initiative which is most likely to yield fruits because if children become friends, parents of the children will become friends and the love will spread and cover a wide area.
Athok Martha, a teacher who brought 30 children from Moyo for the camp said that, children can convince their parents about peace and love if they learn the importance of peace. She also said that they should have more peace camps for the children to help promote peace in South Sudan. Dagule Samuel, the head teacher of Korijo IDP camp nursery school sided with the children’s Peace camp, and said it was a good program that will unite many people in South Sudan and those who are refuges. He added that this program will help unite many families because of the friendship the children have created. Hilary Asiku, a teacher in Matu primary school has faith in this program and believes that very soon, peace will return to south Sudan and everybody will be able to go back home. He also noted that the children are learning that they are one and created in the image of God, which he said will help them unite. He also said South Sudan should reduce tribalism and instead, children should be encouraged to make friends across tribes.
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