Hi, my name is Natalia Mimi Alex. I am a South Sudanese and am the youngest in a family with eight children.
I went to Ezo Primary School where I studied up to primary seven. In 2001, I moved to Uganda due to the conflict and joined Strive High Secondary School where I completed my ordinary level (O-Level) and got my Uganda Certificate of Education.
In 2010, after I had completed my secondary school, I returned to Western Equatoria State, South Sudan, to the town of Yambio, to begin work with my previous employer, another INGO. I was employed as a psychosocial counselor, and provided support to the survivors of gender based violence (GBV) in refugee camps in Ezo County. I really enjoyed my work, particularly because I was working with women, youth, children and elderly people, and providing support and assistance to the most vulnerable of the children and women.
I was inspired to join Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP) as they work in child protection and GBV in situations of armed conflict. When I heard that they were looking for a candidate, I decided to apply for the position. I was successful! At first, it was a challenge for me to be in a community that wasn’t my own, but now that I am getting used to the system, I really love working with NP as it is completely different from other NGOs. That is what most inspired me to join. The reason why NP is different is because most NGOs only provide material assistance to their beneficiaries and the communities they work in. NP’s mandate is to protect civilians through unarmed civilian peacekeeping tools and build capacity of the community both at the county and local level to protect themselves. It has a grassroots approach and presence that benefits people at the local boma or district level.
The photo accompanying this article depicts my first experience of working with women who actually survived attacks by the Lord’s Resistance Army after being abducted and subjected to different types of abuse. They attended training on trauma healing and counselling in Nzara County organized by local Catholic priests. For me, the reality of women being abducted by the rebels was farfetched until I came in contact with these women and listened to their stories, as they struggled to come to terms with their past experiences and reconcile it with the present, while embracing hope for the future.
NP is a unique organization in Western Equatoria State working on projects including child protection and GBV in situations of armed conflict. It forms strong working relationships and coordinates well with partners like the Ministry of Social Development.
PHOTO CAPTION: Natalia Mimi Alex (picture third from left in vest) and a group of former LRA Abductees attend a trauma healing and counselling training seminar in Nzara.
Prepared by Natalia Mimi Alex