by Hope Tichaenzana Chichaya, Program Manager in South Sudan
My teammates Kerrin, Peter and I sat down on the balcony of the guesthouse. Our view was a pile of cars that had been destroyed during the recent violence in Mundri, South Sudan. In the background, I could hear the news from the TV room and occasionally the loud clanking of the power generator would drown out the anchor. I checked my watch; it was still too early to call home. On this night, I especially missed my family. The recent escalation of violence had displaced hundreds of people, destroyed homes and torn families apart. I was tired and unmotivated when I thought about the scourge of violence upon innocent civilians. It made being away from home harder than usual.
Right before the end of the news, I dashed down to the TV room to hear the news anchor wrap up with the daily updates. The headlines were the usual—U.S. elections, the Syrian war and the migrant camps in the UK. There was no mention of South Sudan. Not even a brief update. Frustrated, I headed towards bed.
Reflecting on success
To ease my mind, I began thinking of the small successes that my team and I had earlier in the day. Someone in the morning told me, “There are more students going to school today. This is good!” In the afternoon, a businessman told me, “Your presence has been felt and it is important you came. There are now three more shops.” While doing our patrols we were told that the shops were staying open later and more civilians were moving in and out of town.
I smiled to myself. These are small but encouraging achievements. It felt good to know people felt safe enough to go about their daily activities partly because of our efforts. I have faith that NP’s presence makes a difference. I believe it has built confidence and safety for civilians. Their comments and hopes are my inspiration for a better tomorrow.
I got into bed and tried to fall asleep, I rolled around to change sides. I rolled again and again. Several thoughts raced around in my head about the previous days and what we have to accomplish. I wondered how much longer it would be before I fell asleep. I thought about the recent violence and how we could best help to mitigate the conflict and protect civilians.
I checked the time—almost midnight.
Getting a head start
Unable to sleep, I got up and prepared some work for the next day. By the time I felt tired enough to sleep, I had written my speech for the inter-religious women peace rally. I checked my to-do list. Tomorrow, my team would be going into a controversial area with strictly limited access to participate in a humanitarian assessment. I also had to write an appointment letter to see the Army General so that we could introduce our work, our projects and negotiate access. I needed to clarify what NP stands for. But I decided to save that for the morning and went back to bed.
As I lay there, I could hear the night’s silence broken by insects outside. The generators had turned off a long time ago. From the room next door, I could hear my neighbors snoring and enjoying their sleep. Even my favorite neighbor’s dog howled late into the night. Although, it would be easy to be jealous of my sleeping neighbor, and the chaos outside was disturbing, my reflections from the day comforted me. It felt good to contribute to creating a safe space where people could continue living their lives with hope and dignity.
A LITTLE MORE ABOUT PEACEKEEPER HOPE TICHAENZANA CHICHAYA
Hope has been with NP working in South Sudan since 2013 and is now serving as Program Manager. He holds masters degrees in both Business Administration and Peace Studies & International Affairs. Currently, he is in Bangkok, Thailand where he is further developing his skills as a Rotary Peace Fellow.
My hero is my late dad, Abisha Tafireshango Dhliwayo. He taught me gender equality, nonviolence, and introduced to me the concept and practice of ‘servanthood leadership’.
What inspires me in protecting civilians is that I believe in ‘serving’ towards something bigger than me.
What I encourage in others is to believe in and support the effectiveness and efficiency of unarmed civilian protection in situations of violent conflict. More than ever, investment in this concept and practice is needed.
A book I would recommend reading The Moral Imagination: The Art and Soul of Building Peace by John Paul Lederach.
In my spare time I enjoy cooking, socializing, dancing and spending time with my family.
Something else about me I want to contribute towards peaceful co-existence in the world. I believe ‘in all things to love and to serve.’ There is a better alternative to violence and that is nonviolence.