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The Future of Play For Peace in South Sudan

“Through this work, we are not only able to reach children, but the entire community, and even the nation and international arena at large."

If you read last week’s blog, then you already know that Play For Peace South Sudan is engaged in some exciting work. When we spoke to Eric Gisairo and Mugabi Fred Morjan, two facilitators, we were interested not only in what they had achieved but in what they were planning for the future. They are excited to expand, and with the help of social media and community awareness, this is just what they plan to do. In the short time they have been active, Play for Peace South Sudan has already changed Eric and Fred’s thinking. The group formed in February, working primarily in the Juba region and also in other parts of South Sudan.

For Eric, who works in child protection, PFP has shown him a positive way to treat trauma, giving children the space to simply have fun. The organization has expanded Fred’s understanding of play as well: as an educator, he desires to see children clean, educated, and conflict-free. Through play, he has been able to approach children less as an instructor, and more as a friend. The two look forward to sharing these rewards with others. Eric was thrilled when, recently, he trained several colleagues in the child protection field. Returning to Juba from Pocholla, he saw Facebook pictures of his trainees engaging children with the tactics he had just taught. South Sudan is a place with deep ethnic divisions: this division is taught from infancy, and so children are encouraged to distinguish themselves from others. Through these activities, children can come together: play is an act of unification, allowing different cultures to mend difficulties and extinguish stereotypes.

So what’s next? Fred and Eric are interested in bringing PFP to the Protection of Civilians (PoCs) IDP Camps within the Juba region—civilians in need of safety. Because the IDPs/refugees are confined to the camps, many children are unable to attend school or properly socialize. By bringing PFP to these areas, Fred and Eric hope to provide a sense of normalcy and stability to their lives. In the coming months, they also hope to form school clubs and train local teachers to be PFP facilitators, strengthening the student-teacher bond in the process.

“This is how we are pushing forward. We do what we can within our capacities, and we reach out as often as we can.”

The group’s Facebook page has been particularly wonderful for providing exposure. Every day, it receives more exposure from the international community, highlighting the particular issues in South Sudan, and the goals of the organization at large. Fred and Eric happily boast that their profile has friends from all over, receiving comments from India, America, Kenya, and other nations. Comments from Kenya were particularly interesting: users wanted to know what play for peace was, and how it could help. The group, then, is sharing the spirit of the organization with other regions of Africa. The South Sudan team has already organized two groups outside of Juba, and the extra teams have expanded their possibilities for peace.“We now realize that through this work, we are not only able to reach children, but the entire community, and even the nation and international community at large.”

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