Over two and half years, under consecutive national reconciliation committees, work has been underway to train 350 peace mobilisers, as part of developing the national agenda for reconciliation: in Juba (2013), Yei (2014), Kuajok (2015) and Torit (2015). Despite the conflict, we have remained in contact with many of the participants. This work continued with the latest South Sudan Council of Churches led community peace facilitators training in Kit, in partnership with the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR).
There are many others working for peace in South Sudan. Yet this group of peace mobilisers has a common foundation to its experience, and there is a strong continuity in the core group delivering the program. This offers a unique opportunity to convene a space for re-connecting, renewing and equipping these peace mobilisers for the next phase; connecting with the on-going Peace processes, where appropriate, and laying a foundation for ongoing collaboration amongst themselves.
In the complex, sometimes chaotic surrounding environment, it is a moment to find modest entry points for change. The most recent step brought together 50 of these 350 peacebuilders in May, 2018.
Through a combination of story sharing, personal reflection, group work, network mapping and ideas generation, a foundation was laid for next steps. By the end of the gathering, the group chose focal points for the greater regions who will serve the network. They will drive the outreach effort to reconnect peace mobiliser alumni, with the intention of holding regional fellowship gatherings before the end of the year. Participants also affirmed the peace mobiliser Charter, agreed in Yei in 2014, which lays down the vision, as well as the values and ideals to which all Peace Mobilisers committed.
310 Peace Mobilisers from across the country and across the diverse cultural and ethnic groups in South Sudan have experienced a common journey through these training programs. They have skills in dialogue facilitation and, as importantly, have explored together the legacy of historical wounds, what reconciliation means in their own lives and relationships, and the link to moral values and character.
The goal is to consolidate a network of peacebuilders across the geographic, linguistic and cultural divides of South Sudan, who are committed to peacebuilding as a pillar of development, and who can draw on their collective capability as a first line of resistance to an ongoing narrative of war.
Some of the videos below give a taste of the process with the Peace Mobilisers so far, working alongside the first National Committee for Reconciliation, the subsequent Committee for National Healing, Peace and Reconciliation, as well as partners the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, Youth in Solidarity and New Page for Peace and Development, and supported at different stages by various governments, most recently the Australian Government through its Embassy in Addis Ababa...
Philip Hakim Bongomin, from Magwi in Eastern Equatoria, was born in 1944. On the last evening of the September 2015 training in Torit, we sat down with him to hear some of his life story, spanning 71 years of South Sudanese history.
[apologies for some distortion of sound, which was needed to cancel out the loud music in the background!]