In a frenzy of activity, people in South Sudan pulled out paintbrushes, brooms and planting tools as the country prepared to celebrate the first anniversary of its independence on 9 July.
In the capital Juba, workers scurried to clean up main streets, paint curbstones and repair the John Garang Mausoleum podium, which was severely damaged in a major storm earlier this year.
As the big day approached, flags appeared along newly polished Juba streets and patriotic balloons appeared in some of the larger shops.
In several state capitals, UNMISS assisted with preparations for the anniversary to congratulate South Sudanese on their independence.
The mission donated 100 trees to the Unity State capital of Bentiu, and planted them along the main road to town.
Speaking during the planting, Governor Taban Deng Gai called on people to work for peace and build a democratic nation in Africa. “But we need to work hard for it and create a positive change in South Sudan.”
Thanking UNMISS for the trees, State Minister of Agriculture Samuel Long Geng called on Unity citizens to plant more. “These trees shall be for coming generations.”
Ïn the Jonglei State capital of Bor, UNMISS assisted by cleaning up Bor Hospital and Bor Morol Market. Staff members cleared away garbage and waste materials, loaded them on to mission trucks and dumped them outside town.
Local people who lived adjacent to Marol Market brought garbage from their areas and loaded it on to the UNMISS trucks.
The exercise was conducted in close collaboration with the State Ministry of Health and Bor County Chamber of Commerce.
“This kind of exercise is very significant for places like our hospital, which have many challenges in terms of hygiene and sanitation, especially during a rainy season,” said Dr. John Kok, a director at the State Ministry of Health.
Another health ministry director, Joseph Ujulu, said, “I believe (the cleanup) will encourage all of us to follow their (UNMISS') footsteps ... to maintain ä safe and hygienic environment inside as well as outside the hospital.”
Deng Atem, a businessman at Marol Market said that he was delighted to see the market clean.“Today I feel happy to see the cleaning activities in our market -- removing all garbage and ... materials from the area, which were creating health problems for all of us.”