In a bid to motivate displaced women towards becoming entrepreneurs, UNMISS peacekeepers from Ghana teamed up with civilian staff from the mission’s Relief, Reintegration and Protection (RRP) section to hand over essential trading items—sugar, coffee, tea bags, milk, beans, onions, mugs, spoons, serving trays and charcoal—to more than 30 women residing in the UN Protection Site in Bentiu, South Sudan. Additionally, a few women were given cash assistance to help them purchase perishable foods. These items are intended to encourage beneficiaries to start small tea and food stalls.
Lieutenant-Colonel Antwi Awaah Darkwa, Commanding Officer of the Ghanain contingent, said that peacekeepers serving under him wanted to go beyond the call of duty to assist these women. “We pooled in our personal funds to do this handover because as a peacekeeper, sometimes, you have to do more than what your role demands. Therefore, we identified some capable South Sudanese women who have been massively affected by the conflict here, provided them with a certain degree of capital to start very, very small-scale business ventures which, hopefully, will generate income and feed their families,” averred Lieutenant-Colonel Darkwa.
Many recipients expressed their excitement and gratitude. “Women often suffer more than men in conflict situations. I am no exception. But today, I am filled with renewed hope after receiving these items from our Ghanian brothers. I can start a small business and be self-reliant once again even though I am far from home,” said Elizabeth Nyayuok.
Another beneficiary, Nyadiet Diang, echoed Elizabeth. “I was struggling to make ends meet and was scared of collecting firewood after dark, though I always wanted to open up a small food stall. However, with the charcoal given to us by these UN peacekeepers, I can make my dream come true and feed my children,” she revealed.
For his part, John Gatjang, RRP representative, encouraged all beneficiaries to start their ventures as soon as possible. “We are hopeful that you will use the funds and items given to you wisely and are confident that you will embrace the challenges of starting up and expanding your own businesses.”
In conclusion, Lieutenant-Colonel Darkwa reiterated the commitment to sustainable peace that every peacekeeper serving with UN Peacekeeping demonstrates. “This is a small gesture from us as Ghanains and as UNMISS peacekeepers to show our dedication towards making sure that the people of South Sudan, especially women, can look forward to a peaceful, prosperous future,” he said, adding that, in his opinion, “the best way to foster reconciliation is through rebuilding livelihoods.”
The handover falls under the umbrella of Civil-Military Coordination (CIMIC) activities within UNMISS.