In past few months, communities residing in Magwi, Eastern Equatoria, have had their fair share of troubles, mostly owing to seasonal cattle migration that led to escalating conflict between semi-nomadic livestock herders and settled farmers.
As the rains arrived and thanks to peacebuilding interventions by international friends, including the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), there has been reduced tensions in the county.
However, much needs to be done to ensure conflict-affected communities can recover and begin rebuilding their lives.
A recent intervention by UNMISS and local implementing partner, Children Aid South Sudan (CASS) aims at addressing an important need: Continuing education for children, which has been disrupted in past months.
How did the UN Peacekeeping mission help? By refurbishing a primary school block in Kerepi payam [administrative division] in Magwi, much to the joy of parents living here.
“We are extremely happy to see that the school is now in good condition and our children can attend classes safely,” said Grace Moja Richard, a mother who attended the handover ceremony of the newly renovated block.
“Many people who were displaced by the conflict here are beginning to return and this will benefit them greatly,” she added.
Encouraging such voluntary returns of displaced people and refugees is an added dimension that UNMISS is cogniscent of, reveals Caroline Waudo, the Head of the mission’s Field Office in the state.
“I am confident that these newly built facilities will encourage those who fled, abandoning their homes, farms and lives, to return to their original settlements, reintegrate and have the confidence that there is a safe and conducive learning environment for their children,” stated the high-ranking UN official.
“Children are the future and everybody has the right to receive an education. It is our hope that teachers and pupils alike will benefit from this gesture,” added Ms. Waudo.
The Kerepi Primary School was destroyed during the civil war in 2016.
Currently, thanks to the UNMISS Quick Impact Projects programme, which addresses urgent public needs through small-scale, construction-based interventions that have a big impact on improving community lives, children in Kerepi and surrounding areas can finally have some hope.
“I appeal to authorities to provide qualified teachers so that the school will be operational from next year,” averred Angelo Modi Lambai, Kerepi’s Head Chief.
For his part, Taban Alfred Kenyi, coordinator for education facilities in Eastern Equatoria emphasized the need to maintain momentum in ensuring children can go to school without fear.
“I assure you that the state government will fully support the school with stationery and additional teaching staff to boost learning,” he said.
The refurbished school block includes eight classroom spaces, two staff units, toilets, and a water tank.
Lessons are expected to resume 2023 academic year, as parents joyously begin registering their children for classes.Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).