South Sudan: JRS entrusts activities to the local population after 15 years
20 September 2012

JRS beneficiaries carry the JRS Nimule closing ceremony banner as they walk to Mass. Rebeca Acedo/JRS
JRS work on education and peace-building in the aftermath of the 20-year war in Sudan has helped provide a foundation from which the community can now build.
Nimule, 20 September 2012 – The curtains finally came down on the Jesuit Refugee Service involvement in the education and peace building project in the border town of Nimule when the community joined together to ensure a fitting end to the project last month. The closing ceremony marked an important milestone in the history of JRS Eastern Africa, handing over full responsibility to the South Sudanese authorities and the local community.

JRS work on education and peace-building in the aftermath of the 20-year war in Sudan has helped provide a foundation from which the community can now build. For instance, JRS provided services and assistance in Nimule to more than 13,000 people in a range of activities, including school construction and teacher training.

Education (primary, secondary and adult) as a way of promoting peace and rebuilding the country has been a major focus for JRS in Nimule. The formation of peace clubs, training of catechists, and support for livelihoods through pastoral work have also strengthened the community.

Speaking at the closing ceremony, UN refugee agency field officer in Nimule, Charles Mogga Idra, urged the community to "grasp the opportunity and maintain the work started by JRS".

Mr Mogga called on investors to set up quality learning institutions for children and supplement efforts by NGOs and the government.

JRS first identified an unmet need in Nimule in 1997 when millions were displaced to other parts of Sudan or to neighbouring countries during the two-decade long war. After the close of the Adjumani project in northern Uganda in 2008, JRS accompanied refugees returning home to rebuild their lives.

The project in Nimule continued to expand to support the populations of returnees who came back from exile in neighbouring countries, such as Uganda and Kenya, after the Sudanese government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005.

However, infrastructure had been destroyed during the war and educational services were severely lacking in Nimule. In response, JRS stepped in to help build an education system and foster long-term peace among South Sudanese community members.

Sustainable progress. "JRS has trained peace facilitators to solve problems which may occur in the community. Creation of peace clubs has ensured the youth are not idle and has reduced conflict in the area", said a JRS peace facilitator, John Paul.

JRS also supported 25 primary schools and four secondary schools in Nimule in 2011. The impact of this educational support was clearly demonstrated earlier in 2012 when the results of the 2011 South Sudan Certificate in Secondary Education (SSCSE) were released.

The top performing school in South Sudan was JRS-supported Fulla Secondary School in Nimule. The tenth best-performing girl also hailed from Fulla Secondary School. The attendance of girls enrolled in school has risen as a result of JRS provision of hygiene packs and counselling support.

In addition, JRS addressed the importance of sustainable livelihoods through supplying ovens, agricultural seeds and tools to families which ensures further self-reliance after the JRS exit.

As the celebration drew to a close, the words and support of the Catholic Bishop of Torit Diocese, Akio Johnson Mutek, resonated with the audience. He sent his best wishes to JRS as the organisation looks to the future with confidence, turning its attention now to other projects in South Sudan where greater need is observed. These include educational, pastoral support and peace building projects in the communities of Lobone, Yei and Kajo Keji.

Alex Kiptanui, Nimule Project Director, JRS South Sudan




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