‘We are the light of South Sudan,’ say graduates of UN-run vocational school in Bor
The ninth batch of youth who have received training in different fields has graduated from a vocational centre run by Republic of Korean peacekeepers in Bor after completing a 20-week hands-on curriculum.
52 students, among them 11 girls, acquired skills in agriculture, carpentry, welding, construction, English language, bakery and electricity.
“We are the light of South Sudan,” proclaimed Achol Leek, a graduate of the Bakery class who believes that she is the only hope for her family.
Achol dropped out of school after she lost both parents. Peacekeepers from the Republic of Korea Horizontal Military Engineering Company facilitated different packages of technical skills training that has given her hope that she may find a job to keep food on her family table, and earn enough money to get back to school.
“We thank Korean peacekeepers because they have made us the future of South Sudan,” said Agok Quinine Deng who strongly believes that she will be hired by the best hotels in town for her all-embracing skills in bakery.
Local authorities in Bor, Jonglei area, confirmed that graduates of Hanbit vocational centre will be employed on temporary basis as agricultural extension workers in the area’s 17 counties until a new budget is passed. The rest will have to compete in the open market economy.
“We have vacancies and if they are willing to go to the 17 counties, they will be employed,” said Jonglei Agriculture Minister Mayen Ngor Atem, while also adding that the graduates will be useful to the country and, especially with peace coming in, there will be lots of work.
The students have constructed a French tower to exhibit the skills that they have earnt. More importantly, they also built Cheomseongdae, an ancient Korean astronomical observatory built over 1400 years ago, still standing without any damages through the years.
“I believe, like the Cheomseongdae, that every one of you will be able to withstand any hardships that you may face and become the pillar of industry and pioneer the development and reconstruction of South Sudan. Don't give up and I hope you continue challenging yourselves to make a better tomorrow,” said Won Seong Gu, Commander of Korean Contingents in UNMISS.
Established in 2015, the Hanbit vocational centre has provided much-needed vocational skills to 609 youth, including residents of the UN protection of civilians site.
Worth noting is Hanbit’s influence in peacebuilding as it provides an environment for war-fragmented local communities of the Greater Jonglei region to coexist regardless of ethnicity or political affiliation.
Embedded in the revitalized peace agreement on the resolution of conflict in South Sudan is the recognition that contribution of all citizens is what is needed to build a strong foundation for peace and development.
According to the local authorities, the center is preparing young people in Bor for that and for post-conflict development of South Sudan.
“I always feel this is one of the best ways the United Nations Mission in South Sudan can prepare South Sudan for the next stage of post-conflict development,” said Jonglei area governor Philip Aguer while addressing the graduation ceremony.
“Gaining skills in agriculture, welding, construction, electricity, bakery and carpentry is the foundation for building the needed institution for economic growth in South Sudan and of the rehabilitation of war-affected communities,” he concluded.