A report by Rose Muraguri & Richard Wani
VSF Germany, since 2015, has been at the forefront in socio-economic reintegration of children formerly associated with armed forces and armed groups as well as the most vulnerable who are at risk of recruitment in Pibor. This has been made possible with support of funds from UNICEF. The following achievements have been realized from February 2015 to February 2019:
- The project has supported 1,063 released children at the Interim Care Centre and reunified them with their families.
- A total of 1,524 former child soldiers and 1,457 most vulnerable children have been supported with two healthy female small ruminants of reproductive age restocking as well as small ruminant husbandry training, vaccination, treatment and linkage to veterinary care.
- The project has supported 700 children with 2 hens and 1 cock each coupled with local chicken housing materials, poultry care training, vaccination, treatment and linkage to veterinary care.
- Trained 989 children in children’s rights and reached 2,895 community members with zero child recruitment messages.
- Supported 2,495 children and their caregivers with agricultural tools, seeds and training.
- Supported 1,130 children and their caregivers with fishing nets, twines, hooks and fishing skills.
- The project has supported 200 boys with bee hives, honey harvesting equipment and skills in apiary.
- A total of 203 children have benefitted from economic strengthening activities (bread baking, fish preservation, tea shops, mandazi making and milk preservation).
- The project has reached 112 with vocational skills and start up kits in welding, auto mechanics, brick making, tailoring, electrical and solar installation, carpentry, masonry, photography, borehole pump maintenance and hair and beauty.
- The project has supported 54 boys in community animal health training. The boys have joined VSF Germany’s network of community animal health workers for vaccination and treatment assignments.
- A total of 179 children have benefited from basic business literacy skills to enable them run their small scale outfits.
- The project has enhanced the dignity of 51 girls and female care givers by training them in making re-usable sanitary pads.
- The project has reached 1082 community members in peace building meetings among the age sets amongst who there is sporadic conflict.
The Red Hand Celebration
It is the practice of VSF Germany to mobilise beneficiaries to display their activities to the community whenever there is an event that concerns them. The Red Hand Day celebration was one such occasion when children demonstrated their skills in welding, agribusiness, hair and beauty, animal health skills among others. This encourages the released children and gives them hope away from the guns. It also affirms that there are better activities for the children in the community and as such they should not join the military.
The event was attended by Boma State dignitaries among them the Deputy Governor John Abulla, Minister for Education - Joseph Lilimoi, Minister for Gender - Lydia Peter Agolory, SSPDF Commander – Abulla Kuthura, UNICEF and UNIMISS Pibor staff, I/NGOs and the general public.
The Minister for Gender congratulated VSF Germany for the work they are doing in the community especially building the capacity of children in the different sectors. She noted that through VSF Germany Pibor has more welders who can make beds and this has broken the monopoly of the only one welder that has been in Pibor.
The Minister for Education said the Boma State was ranked number five in the primary level examinations. He encouraged all children to go to school.
The SSPDF Commander said that SSDF and other organized forces are working with National Disarmament Demobilization Release Commission all over the country to demobilize the children. Boma State does not have child soldiers. He further said that any recruitment command has been instructed to screen anybody below 18 years. He said that the State Government is committed to returning abducted children to their rightful owners. Since January 2019, 6 abducted children have been returned to Juba by the State.
He further said that to limit use of guns by the children, the State has banned use of guns during the traditional age-set fights and abolished cattle raids within and outside the State. This was confirmed when the Governor and SSPDF ordered and supervised the returning of raided cattle to Jongolei Bor in January 2019.
The Deputy Governor who graced the occasion as the guest of honor said Boma State is now free of child soldiers. Peace has prevailed and thus no reports of recruitments have been taking place. He said he is happy with interventions that have been done for the children. He urged the children to study was harder as they replace the guns with pens. He assured them that there is still time for them to study and achieve better life a head.
He assured the non-governmental agencies that the government will work hand in hand with them to achieve development and zero recruitment and abduction of children. He revealed that children who were abducted have been reunited with their families.