Hope and joy among Khorgana returnees palpable, thanks to an UNMISS school handover
WESTERN BAHR EL GHAZAL - Past civil wars in South Sudan had decimated critical infrastructure, including schools, in Khorgana, an area in Wau county.
With the signing of a peace deal in 2018 and the formation of a transitional government of national unity, this remote area has begun seeing an influx of returnees.
Help, therefore, was forthcoming from international friends such as the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) in the form of confidence-building exercises as well as community dialogues, enabling this small village to come slowly but surely back to life.
“When we first began speaking to displaced persons and promoting messages of peace around middle of last year, Khorgana was empty. There was literally not a single person living in the area,” recalled Nobert Nyodusenga, a Protection of Civilians Officer working with the UN Peacekeeping mission.
“Everyone representing Khorgana in these discussions were living in neighbouring payams [administrative division], but today, the streets here are thriving,” he continued.
It is estimated that 235 households between November 2022 to date have returned to Khorgana.
This, reveals Mr. Nyodusenga, is a sharp contrast to just a few months earlier.
As people began returning to this remote area, the need for critical services was immediate.
UNMISS, through its Quick Impact Projects programme, responded to the community’s top priority—a school for their children.
“The existing school building was broken down, dilapidated and depressing, but now, thanks to the funding provided by the UN Peacekeeping mission, it has been transformed into a modern structure,” revealed Siro Matthew, a local leader and the head teacher of Khorgana Primary School.
“It was hard to see our children struggling to learn before but now whether it rains, or the sun is high, our children will remain in class” he added.
When the renovation began, only 20 pupils were enrolled but after the UNMISS intervention, numbers have more than doubled to 177 students.
The new building consists of five classrooms equipped with benches, two offices, a storeroom, kitchen, toilets, and a water point, motivating not only children to focus on their education, but also teachers.
“I believe this building has the potential to encourage many children to come to school,” stated Nyigelo Uchalla Jethio, a young volunteer teacher. “I myself am motivated to teach the children, even though I don’t receive any payment,” she added.