I promised a few weeks ago to tell a bit of what we are doing in South Sudan, and also to share what Nonviolent Peaceforce does. Well I meant for this post to come a bit sooner, but K and I have been under the weather a bit. We both have a better understanding of the “Juba Welcome” that most foreigners experience once they settle into life in the city. To be totally honest I did not feel welcomed, it wasmore like there was something very unwelcomed, which had taken up residence in my body. We spent several hours at the local clinic one Sunday night trying to figure out what exactly K had that was causing so much sickness. It was pretty rough, I have not ever seen him quite so sick and felt quite so helpless. After three IVs and a shot in the rump he was a bit better and I took him back to sleep it off. The next morning in the shower K found the Band-Aid on his cheek and asked me where it came from. I chuckled, and told him about the shot. He did not remember half of our clinic visit; probably for the best. I on the other hand remember everything a little too clearly.
We are now on the up and up and I am super glad to be on this side of things. Juba, we are officially welcomed… thank you?
Let me start by telling you what Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP) does in South Sudan. We are an organization that works within the Protection Sector of the Emergency and Relief work in South Sudan. You probably heard somewhere that things are rather unstable in South Sudan. It is true. South Sudan became a country in July of 2009 and has had an up hill battle to establish a government structure and peace. This process takes a long time and is incredibly complicated and often violent. (Watch out here comes a rant) I would love those who say that the US government needs to be reformed and we need a revolution to see what is happening in South Sudan. In a revolution many innocent civilian get caught in the crossfire and become causalities. It is horrible to know how innocent people suffer during this process. Let me clarify that I am not against reformation, and making things better but I would love that the term revolution not be thrown around without knowing the cost. The cost are innocent women and children, who are separated during raids, who have lost their livelihoods because it is not safe for them to work in the fields by themselves, who are raped and those who are murdered. It is an extremely high cost and not one that should be taken lightly. NP works with these civilians, the one whom the risk is so very high providing protection and advocates for stability in these communities. We have programs that provide protective accompaniment, which means that international staff walk or drive with vulnerable individuals to get them to a safe place. We develop local community protection groups to empower each community to protect themselves. We do child protection, which involves family tracing and reuniting children with their families after raids . We do trainings on Gender Based Violence (GBV) to educate communities, men and women on these topics and the services that are provided for them in their community. I have only hit a few of the highlights of our programming, but if you would like more information take a look at our website. We are non-partisan actors in the protection sector; we are here for the vulnerable civilians who are caught in the middle of fighting parties.
Okay so on to what we do all day long. Honestly, I should not comment about what K does all day long because I do not know half of what he does. I do know that he is one of the hardest working members of the team, juggling all kinds of information and logistical things. His official title is Operations Manager, which means he over sees all the NP operations in South Sudan. And it is a lot. From tracking cars, to field supplies, to managing staff, to water and food supplies for all field sites. (We have 7 field sites currently, and a few more are in the works) He is a busy man. He is on duty 24/7 all the while putting new policies in place to make the day to dayactivities run smoother.
I work as a Programme Officer. (Yes, that is with two M’s) My job is to manage grants that fund our projects. I work closely with the donors that have a presence in Juba and report our activities. I did a bit of this last year and enjoyed it, so I was excited to join the Programming Office in Juba with NP. The first few weeks in Juba I have been reading all the project proposals and getting up to speed on the situation in South Sudan. It is complicated. Isn’t always. But now that I have a bit more understanding I have been involved in writing future project proposals and meeting donors and other actors here in Juba that we coordinate with and work alongside. I am still working to become confident of my role, but I love the challenge it presents and cannot image doing anything else… well there is a Ugandan Bakery job that looks pretty attractive. Who says you cannot have it all?