Position: Program Director, Executive Team, Helping Hands (NGO)
Name: Mr.ZIATH Mayen Muorwel Mayom (South Sudan)
Program participated: Participatory Community Development for Practitioners for
Reconciliation and Creation of Society for Coexistence
Duration: October 10 to November 26, 2016
Juba, the capital of Republic of South Sudan had witnessed one of the biggest events for the peace building that lighted the hope for reconciliation in the city that had been the battleground in numerous occasions during the country’s 3 years civil war. The second national unity day that runs from 2017 January 27th to February 5th was funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and implemented in collaboration with national Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport, Republic of South Sudan. This peace building event came during a critical time where the country hope for peace is taking shape as the president H.E Salva Kiir stands firm in seeking for the national dialogue to address the victims’ grievances and conviction of the perpetrators to enable society preparedness for reconciliation.
The National Unity event brought over 500 youths across major towns of South Sudan together. These youth participate in the sporting competition on football and athletics as well as peace building activities. Although some of these youth had the opportunity of participating in the first national unity day that was conducted last year, majority of them seem to be first timers, who look so much excited to have the first camping experience which brings youth of various tribe together. This camping experience seems to be building a great network for the young people across the nation as they build trust and friendship amongst themselves.
The occasion was official graced by the First Vice President of Republic of South Sudan H.E Taban Deng Gai and attended by various dignitaries from the government and international institutions. The First Vice President appreciates the organizers and encourages the youth to embrace peace. "Sport is the best way of bringing peace and unity among us South Sudanese. There are better opportunities in this conflict we are in, but all need is to be united to enjoy the opportunities." H.E Taban Deng Gai. The president of JICA Mr. Shinichi Kikaoka on his part sends a strong massage for the importance of unity in diversity in making a prosperous nation.
The Republic of South Sudan is youthful nation with an estimate population of 12.3 million of which 75 percent are under the age of 30. The country being the newest nation in the world, find itself in a civil conflict after three years of independence. This conflict although it is political in nature has turned South Sudanese tribes against each other. he violence has left society highly fragmented and inter-communal conflicts prevalent. The mistrust amongst various communities fueled by negative stereotypes; lack o knowledge and negative assumption about each other has created a stumbling block to achieve sustainable peace and stability in the country.
Tribal stereotyping intensifies many inter-communal conflicts in Republic of South Sudan. Many people who fuel the conflict or who directly advance the use of violence do not have any concrete issues against the tribes they are pushing violence on but they are driven by anger and stereotype against the said tribes. The national unity day plays a central role in reducing the stereotype and building cohesion amongst youth on the pitch as well as outside the pitch, for it bring together stakeholders in peace building and create a platform to network and build on social capital by reducing the existing tension amongst stakeholders and to promote collective responsibility towards achieving a positive peace.
To Foster a collective national identity, so that the citizens are able to see their citizenship in the nation as more important than ethnic nationalities, it is important to view cultural diversity as an asset that must be put to use for building a colorful nation in such a way that each citizen sees him or herself as part of the body of the nation. To do this, it is an ideal for the nation to create a platform that brings citizens and boost the social capital-the relationship and network that enable trust and cooperation among people and this can easily achieve through sports of which the ministry of Culture Youth and Sport through support of JICA took noticed.
The Sports is language and means of communication exchange that brings all the nationalities of South Sudan together and build on their social capital. The exchange strengthens the social fabric among various sub-groups in the nation as they identify their common interest, which faster integration of society.
The Youth play central role in the continuity of conflict in the newest nation, as they are the mechanism of perpetuating violence. Bring young people together has a great impact in reversing the conflict and building the social capital through their interaction across ethnicities and formation of youth networks across their ethnic groups.
To use the JICA investment of technical cooperation between friendly states of Japan and South Sudan of which Helping Hands was beneficiary, Mayen Muorwel, Program Director for Helping Hands, volunteer to be part of the historic occasion by facilitating peace activities. The concept of the peace activities of which Helping Hands facilitated, provides the participants with basic knowledge in peace building so that they can be change agents in their various societies. This principle ensures the sustainability of the project in regards to peace promotion in the community and to increase the expected project impact.
Although Muorwel-san was a self made peace activist who have been engaging in peace activities for a long time in Republic of South Sudan, the training of knowledge co-creation program (KCCP) on Participatory community development for practitioner for reconciliation and creation of society for coexistence, which was conducted at JICA Kansai raised him to the additional height in peace promotion as it equips him with wider knowledge and approaches in reconciliation and creation of peaceful coexistence in disintegrated society.
The peace building activities conducted by Helping Hands systematically foster youth’s capacity on two major themes, that is, 1) Reconciliation & peace building 2) gender. The training employs the practical exercises and discussion in order to widen the understanding of the participants on the training themes. It is anticipated that the participants learned practical skills that they can apply at the community level to enable them to spearhead behavioral Change campaign and act as an agents of change in their various society to promote reconciliation, peace and gender equality
The successful completion of National Unity day has risen hope in the trouble country that peace can be achieve if all ethnicity works together. The project has awoken the national pride in many young people who long to see the country moving to the greatest heights. Majok Amach Kuocniin, the leading fan of the wining team (Rumbek) stated "The wining of this cup is not for Rumbek as a team, but is a wining of all South Sudanese people and particularly the youth. The fair play conducted during the tournament shows that youth can rise above their ethnicity and political affiliation and make the whole country proud again. The wining is for all of us - the peace lovers." Makur Long Achol, the fan for Awiel team that lose final to Rumbek, conceded the defeat and stated "I don't feel the pain losing to Rumbek for we are all winners - we won unity… what we are looking forward now is sustainable peace"