Diaspora Education for Peace
South Sudan Child First Education (SSCFE) was founded by members of the South Sudanese community in Australia, many of whom originally came from Pannyok and still have family and community ties there. Our vision is for a just and peaceful community in South Sudan, where everyone can access education and health care, and the community works together to create opportunities for a better life. Our Australian members are part of the South Sudanese community who still maintain a strong connection with South Sudan and our South Sudanese members are people working for peace in their communities.
For the past 4 years, SSCFE has been actively working with the community in South Sudan helping with children education and advocating for intercommunity dialogue and peaceful solutions to conflict. We focus on Pannyok village, in the north of South Sudan, an area that has suffered decades of conflict, famine, and deprivation. The region is also prone to regular flooding which impacts crops and access.
In this setting women and children are the most vulnerable. Girls end their education early to get married, while young boys are often enlisted as soldiers. There is a high number of orphans with no shelter or adult supervision, high rate of death in childbirth and no medical facilities. Women are the care givers not only for their families, but also for the extended community.
In 2008, Asunta Deng and Malual Deng (members of SSCFE) went back to see family after 21 years and meet John Mangok Kuot, a respected leader in the community. However, only two weeks after they came back to Australia, John died in an air crash on the 2nd of May 2008. Asunta and Malual decided to take on John’s legacy and work with the local community to fulfil his promise to build the school and clinic for women and children. Since then, SSFCE has worked to address some of the underlining issues affecting the community, such as low literacy and intercommunity conflict.
With this project we propose to build 5 classrooms to accommodate approximately 250 children aged 6-18 years old along with kitchen, dining, and toilet facilities. The kitchen will be run by 10 local
women, providing free meals to students, and functioning as a café for the public, thus helping women involved to start their own business.
Community members, particularly women, are supportive of the project and have started to make adobe bricks to build the facility.
Women in Pannyok are those that are encouraging SSCFE the most.
As it stands, there are no existing projects that help them to better their lives. We believe that the success of this project and its sustainability relies on local community participation and our ability to
dialogue with the many communities in South Sudan and with local government.
Our South Sudan members are constantly talking to families and leaders about the importance of education. We talk about girls and children’s rights and peace. Tribal divisions are still a major
problem, however the community in South Sudan wants to have peace. As members of the diaspora community, SSCFE has a big role to play.
We are engaging with the local community, but we are also
reaching out to politician and government in South Sudan. Peace is a collective responsibility and unless we can work together with all stakeholders, we won’t be able to create a better life in South
Sudan. We believe that by delivering this project while keeping an open dialogue, we can take a step forward to reach our vision for a just and peaceful community in South Sudan.