by Brenda Floors, International Civilian Peacekeeper, South Sudan
In May, the Nzara Field Team, consisting of six nationals and five internationals, set foot in the lush and tropical county near the border of Congo. We have been hard at work ever since, providing in several emergency accompaniments of victims of violence, especially children rescued from the Lord's Resistance Army. In our first month, we also provided lodging for two traumatized young girls.
June started with the first big assignment for the team: doing a baseline survey Nzara, Ezo and Ibba counties. The survey assessed the situation and general safety and security needs, with a particular focus on the challenges children are facing. We introduced Nonviolent Peaceforce, got acquainted with six communities identified by the Ministry of Social Development, and gained acceptance from key stakeholders in the areas served.
Based on the results of the baseline surveys, we set out to build the capacity of selected duty bearers through a workshop that focused on the protection challenges women and children in the area face. With a greater understanding and awareness of the issues at hand, the trainees are now better able to continue full speed in building a safer and more peaceful South Sudan!
As newcomers to Western Equatoria State, we -- together with local and international partners -- organized the Celebration of the Day of the African Child (16th of June) in Nzara. The celebration turned out wonderfully, and was an excellent opportunity to work with other organizations and local actors and spread the word on NP’s presence and work.
Besides reaching out and doing fieldwork, we also focused on internal capacity building. South Sudan is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world, so there was plenty of reason for us to receive a training on how to act in case of encountering a mine on one of our many field trips!
We were also trained on first aid -- which focused on the most common and dangerous situations in South Sudan -- and a Conflict Early Warning Early Response System which NP is working to establish. The latter training lies at the core of Nonviolent Peaceforce’s work, since it addresses mechanisms that can be put in close at any level in order to recognize and prevent, or respond as quickly as possible to, conflict.
In our first months, we've been busy laying the groundwork for success. We're all looking forward to building ties with the community, protecting children, and preventing violence in South Sudan.