South Sudanese have one thing in common. They might disagree with each other over most things as the war and conflict continues to tear the country apart since 2013 but they all agree on how important education is.
I had organised a project in one of the IDP camps in a UN compound when the war broke out in 2014. I hired IDPs among the IDP population to help me deal with the issues that would come up as they spoke the language, knew what was going on and could help me to address this. We dealt with a range of basic issues over fights over water as there was not enough supply, to clan infighting and killings and child abuse.
One day, two of the volunteers approached me and told me that they don’t want to remain in the IDP camp. Particularly as young men, they were exposed to be forcefully recruited into armed groups. I knew that. The pressure was high. I remember having had many discussions in the camp with women who called their men as weak, because they stayed with them inside the IDP camp rather than fighting outside.
Today, these two young men are pursuing their dream of an education and have never been part of any fighting. We need to provide alternatives in countries torn by war and we need to raise awareness among the youth, men and women alike why fighting is not a masculine attribute, how it destroys one future, family and an entire country. Those who want peace need to organise themselves and have a stronger voice then those who want war.