United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS)

Animal husbandry, carpentry, baking, tailoring, bricklaying – you name the skill and there is a decent chance that the vocational training offered to 65 youth in Opari and Pajok included encompassed it.

The three-month-long courses, funded by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), took place at the Opari and Pajok vocational training centres, were organized in collaboration with Eastern Equatoria State’s Ministry of Education and were implemented by the nong-governmental organizations Peace Link Foundation and Community Needs Initiative.  

“I wouldn’t be able to support myself without this opportunity to learn. My life has definitely improved,” said Nyeko Richard, one of the graduated bricklayers, who also gained valuable skills on working with concrete.

Demand for the trainings was huge, with Peace Link Foundation alone having received more than a thousand applications for the 30 available slots.

Many of the trainees were young men and women having returned home from difficult stays in refugee camps in Uganda. Finding opportunities to make a living has been hard for most of them.

“Life was unbearable in the camp, but now the future looks bright,” said Otowa Jackline Geofrey, who now knows everything worth knowing about animal husbandry.

“Now some of my goats are pregnant, meaning that I can look forward to quite a bit of money in a year or two,” the new graduate added happily.

Apart from teaching potentially income-generating skills, the trainings are also meant to encourage the voluntary return of internally displaced persons, who fled their homes because of violent conflict. With a steady increase of youth returning over the last few months, that objective seems to have been met.

“In Pajok, our records show that 2,523 individuals have returned, more or less half of whom are youth who need support to settle in and be productive. These trainings have been very timely indeed,” said Okeny John Andrew, the Pajok Administrator.

As far as Caroline Waudo, Head of the UNMISS Field Office in Eastern Equatoria State, is concerned, the initiative was just the first step for the youth who could benefit from it.

“Consider the course you have graduated from the beginning of your career development. It will help shape your life and give you an income, thus making you more resilient. With new skills, you will develop yourselves and the communities you come from,” she said.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).