Despite COVID-19, 60 people build skills through an UNMISS-supported vocational training in Malakal
As Theresa Dak, a South Sudanese woman, dons her graduation gown, accessorized with the obligatory face mask in these times of COVID-19, she says she feels a sense of immense pride. “I’m enormously grateful to the people who trained me in brick making. Traditionally, income-generating pursuits such as construction, laying and making of bricks, and so forth were considered a man's domain,” reveals Theresa. “However, after participating in this skill-building training organized by UNMISS, I realized that I along with other female participants are armed with the necessary knowledge and abilities to transform our temporary grass tukuls (huts) into concrete homes that give us long-term shelter,” she states.
The five-month course was implemented by the Relief, Reintegration and Protection (RRP) Section, UNMISS, in collaboration with local partners, at a vocational training center in Kodok, Upper Nile region, South Sudan. More than 60 local workers, including 36 women, were trained in tailoring and dressmaking as well as burnt brick laying to enable them to start income-generating activities within their localities. Of these, 40 trainees specialized in dressmaking while the rest became proficient in brick making and laying. Upon completion of the skill-building programme, they received starter tool kits to help them as they begin small enterprises.
Kodok has witnessed many voluntary returns, especially in the Fashoda area; local nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), supported by UNMISS, are doing everything in their capacity to ensure that returnees have access to humanitarian assistance and are able to reintegrate into society with adequate means of livelihood. One such NGO, the National Relief and Development Corps (NRDC) works closely with UNMISS to identify the most cogent needs of returning community members. “Our efforts to help returnees focus on building their capacities through vocational skills so that their reintegration into a secure social life is underpinned by an adequate economic foundation. Self-reliance is paramount, in our opinion, for conflict-affected people to sustainably reintegrate into their communities. Equipping them with the skills needed to earn a decent livelihood is an important part of this,” states Ms. Nychangjwok Angelo, Field Project Manager, NRDC.
For his part, Keikura Seringah Braima, Recovery, Stabilization and Reintegration Officer, UNMISS, urged course participants to use their newly-developed abilities to rebuild infrastructure and trickle down what they have learnt to members of their community, thereby creating a multiplier effect where more and more community members learn to be self-reliant. “While today’s graduation ceremony might seem a bit somber given the preventative measures we are following to mitigate the effects of the ongoing global pandemic, it is a very happy day because, I believe, with the skills all of you have acquired, you will improve your own lives and also pass on your knowledge to others.”
Additionally, UNMISS RRP is working with key stakeholders in supporting Quick Impact Projects related to school renovations in Baliet and Kodok.