Building skills, building trust: Indian peacekeepers teach young people in Malakal carpentry
“There are many young people in Malakal but with civil wars and conflict disrupting their education coupled with the current economic situation in South Sudan, they are unemployed and idle,” reveals Lieutenant Colonel Nijil Nair, a peacekeeper from India serving with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
Blue Helmets from the UN Peacekeeping mission, therefore, teamed up with the UN Refugee Agency and the Humanitarian Development Consortium to come up with a skill-building activity: Teaching 15 youth carpentry skills.
“We felt that young people would benefit from learning a trade which would enable them to generate income as well as trickle down their skills to their peers,” says Lieutenant Colonel Nair.
The 10-day training was intensive and aimed at ensuring that participating youth develop professional-level skills in carpentry.
For 25-year-old Benison Adiang, the activity was valuable beyond measure. “I love tools and this training gave me the opportunity to learn how to work with hand tools as well as machinery,” reveals Benison. “I also found out that accidents can happen when one is in the workshop. Proper safety procedures must be followed by all carpenters. I’ve gained a lot of confidence and I know now I will be able to make money and possibly teach other young people as well. We can be self-reliant.”
Being able to food on the table and empowerment are what this training signifies to 20-year-old Beliny Jok, another participant.
“I knew nothing about carpentry before I took part in this activity,” she says with a smile. “But I’m a very determined person and within the first few days I was making tables and chairs. I am going to take the knowledge I have gained and train other young girls in the community. Who said only men can be carpenters? We can be just as capable,” she added proudly.
“If our country has to develop, women and girls must be able to earn their own money and I call on all young girls to enroll in such vocational training.”