Development projections in a tough political and humanitarian environment
After gaining its independence in 2011, South Sudan continues to face a worrying political crisis, which began in 2013 and has seriously weakened its economy and people, so that it now lacks human resources (the conflicts have destroyed families) and intellectual resources (illiteracy rates are growing). Such political and economic instability means that there is little development aid available, and funding providers are giving priority to emergency aid.
Despite this enormous humanitarian crisis, the SSVP is standing firm. Unlike the NGOs that provide emergency relief, the Society tries to offer a long-term response. It is endeavouring to ensure the longevity of its development initiatives, which encourage resilience in people, helping them rebuild lives in the long term, with nursery schools, centres for orphans, feeding and healthcare centres, and vocational training opportunities.
The CFPDC*: contributing to peace and reconstruction in the country
In 2009, the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, partnered with ASASE**, opened a high-quality Vocational Training Centre, to help support vocational employment. The programme established by the SSVP, based in the community of Lologo, in Juba, capital of South Sudan, offers training courses designed to meet the needs of the South Sudan job market. It provides training in basic trades such as construction, mechanical engineering and agriculture (among others). The main aim is to make the young people immediately employable on the job market, after nine months’ training.
At the same time, the centre aims to strengthen the personal and social skills of its students through its “living together” programme. Several joint workshops are held regularly, covering subjects such as conflict resolution, ethnic, religious or cultural diversity, human rights, respect for pluralism, etc.
Although it is complicated to analyse the impact indices, because of the prevailing conflict, the programme has still demonstrated its long-term effects. As explained in the evaluation report on the project, conducted by an external consultant for ASASE, the partner NGO: “our observations on the ground allow us to state that the vocational training programme has had a major impact on young people, who have little opportunity for training, and come from vulnerable environments. They have benefited from the courses, as have their immediate families indirectly, with the additional income from jobs obtained. Another longer term positive effect comes directly from the fact that with this training the young people now have prospects for the future which do not include violence or war”.
On December 8th, the Under Secretary to the Ministry of Employment and Development, Mary Hillary, attended the event as guest of honour. Mr. Moses Telar, director of Religious Affairs for the government, as well as director for vocational training and development policies, and Monsignor Santo Laku Pio, auxiliary Bishop in the Archdiocese of Juba, also demonstrated their support for the project by attending this event.
At the ceremony, 307 students were awarded their diplomas in the following seven areas of study: mechanical engineering, electricity, construction, computer studies, sewing, first aid and agri-food studies. These qualified students were assisted in their search for employment with the tools they would need in their working lives. For instance, the students who had trained in sewing skills received a sewing machine, the first-aiders a first-aid kit, etc.
Betram, a South Sudanese serving his country
Betram Gordon Kuol is a South Sudanese who has been a member of the SSVP in Juba for almost ten years. He is presently the coordinator for the Africa 2 region (Erytrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, South Africa, Swaziland, Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, São Tome & Principe). Alongside his role as international coordinator, Betram Gordon has led the training programme since it began, a job he does simply as a vocation, serving his neighbour, without counting the cost. He gives us a message of hope in his greetings for 2017:
“In South Sudan in recent years, the news media have concentrated entirely on political conflicts, with murders, mass population movements, human rights atrocities, corruption, galloping inflation, lack of food security and famine, which is affecting over half the population. If instead of looking at this gloomy picture, you consider the work of the SSVP, you will see children being fed, people in need receiving free medical care, all this leading to improved health for the population, producing a society which is more independent, self-sufficient, stronger and more productive. It is all happening because there are committed, generous-hearted people like you and me who roll up their sleeves, who speak out, raise funds and set up development programmes to improve living conditions for the most deprived people. In this New Year, remember that you all have reasons to stand tall and be proud of the important work you are doing, giving hope and saving so many lost lives. A good and holy year to you all in 2017.”
*Centre for vocational training and social development
**Swiss Association of Friends of Sister Emmanuelle