CENTRAL EQUATORIA - “We tailor skills training programmes to not just focus on theoretical knowledge but actually help people earn livelihoods,” says Lauro Ohiyo, a Protection, Transition and Reintegration Officer working with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
“We believe its an essential tool that contributes to protecting civilians by empowering them, economically and emotionally,” he continues.
Lauro’s words come to life when one visits Mangateen camp for internally displaced persons, located on the outskirts of South Sudan’s capital, Juba.
Here, 45 displaced people—mothers and youth—who never got the chance to complete their formal education because of repeated civil wars are busy learning skills at a three-month workshop facilitated by the UN Peacekeeping mission.
Tailoring, baking and soap-making are the three overarching tiers of this skill-building exercise; each course is attended by 10 women and 5 men.
Upon completing the courses, every individual will be equipped with a start-up kit that contains necessary equipment. The aim: To enable participants start their own small businesses and become financially self-reliant and productive members of their communities.
This effort has given rise to hope, a commodity in short supply within the Mangateen displaced community.
“When I graduate from this course, I will actually train my family members, so that together we can improve our lives,” says Simunya Amut Suja, a 25-year-old mother of three who is learning soap-making.
Simunya adds that she believes this initiative will reduce her dependency on humanitarian aid.
“Prior to starting this course, my life in the camp was living on handouts of food and medicine. I am grateful to humanitarian partners for sustaining me so far and now UNMISS is giving me a hand up,” she states with a smile.
For Mary Nagisha, a trainer in the tailoring course, watching her students blossom is a gift.
“In South Sudan, tailoring is a profession that is financially viable. You won’t lose money as a tailor and have a daily income. This is important and I am heartened to see the people attending my course learning everything I can teach about women’s and men’s tailoring.”
Stephen Mongi, a soap making trainer at Mangateen, echoes Simunya.
“Our focus is to equip trainees with everything they need and become small-scale entrepreneurs earning incomes for themselves and for their families and slowly usher in reduced donor dependence,” he reveals.
For Angelina Nyajec, who is developing her skills in bakery, the workshop is invaluable.
“I can see myself starting my own bakery and spreading joy on different occasions, be it birthdays, weddings, or family gatherings. I want to work for myself, because what is given to you has its end – and that end can come abruptly.”
The training programme will conclude by the end of June.