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Broadening success for WPDI’s Peace Engagement Days at the Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement

On Saturday 28, 7,000 people took part in Peace Engagement Day, WPDI’s signature rendezvous in the life of the refugee settlement of Kiryandongo, Uganda, to celebrate peace drawing on sports, community dialogues, including, for the first time, a Peace Marathon. Peace Engagement Day is a series of monthly events that WPDI organizes in the context of the programs it develops with the support of the Western Union Foundation in the Kiryandongo refugee settlement to nurture a culture of peace and reconciliation among the mostly South Sudanese refugee populations and the neighboring Ugandan communities.

Originally organized as part of our Peace Through Sports program, the day mainly consist in a football mini-tournament and community dialogues on peace-related themes - on Saturday, the dialogues focused on “Better together”, the theme of Peace Engagement Day for October. It should be noted that some communities of refugees have built on the WPDI-organized dialogues meeting to conduct dialogues/sensitization in the community especially on Sundays after services in public gathering places within the settlement. Other activities on Peace Engagement Day include radio talk shows, movie screenings, music, dance and drama performances from various ethnic groups, poems, mime shows by youth, speeches by eminent personalities, and exhibitions.

On this edition, the cultural program was performed by members of the Pojulu, Shiluk, Madhi, Kakwa ethnic groups, four of the 36 different communities hailing from South Sudan identified to live in the refugee settlement. WPDI keeps inviting these ethnic groups to perform in turns on Peace Engagement Days. It is hoped that by December 2017 at least all the 36 different ethnic groups shall have performed at least once on an edition of Peace Engagement Day. Host community ethnic groups from Bududa, Bweyale and Kiryandongo also joined in the celebration.

This rich and diverse program of these monthly events is undoubtedly one of the reasons behind the success of the event, which gathers children, youth and adults from the refugee community and the host communities, humanitarian workers, partners, representatives from the Kiryandongo District Local Government and the Bweyale Town Council, members of the business community, religious leaders. Signaling the growing visibility of the event, the Resident District Commissioner was present during the occasion, as well as Representatives of the Danish Refugee Council. Other agencies working within Kiryandongo settlement such as TPO, Windle Trust International, Real MF and IAU attended the celebration.

The October edition of Peace Engagement Day also introduced a new activity, the Peace Marathon, an innovation that was immediately embraced by the refugee and host communities since 780 people participated in the race. We are very proud to stress that 312 of the participants were women, a sure sign that our programs are on track against our objective to gain the trust of communities and help them transform from the inside.