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Children from vulnerable communities within Juba, South Sudan, rejoice at the three brand new playgrounds our partner Naguib Sawiris just donated

When they saw their brand new shiny playgrounds, the children simply roared and chanted, and leapt and ran. Last week, we completed the installation of three playground areas in Juba – one at our Community Learning Center in the city and two at a UN-operated camp for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), where we carry a number of programs for peacebuilding and psycho-social support. For IDPs chased from home due to the civil conflict that has been ongoing for nearly 5 years, daily life in a camp can be rather difficult, especially since even the simplest needs translate into immense challenges.

IDPs need food and shelter, but they also need psychosocial support to cope with the trauma they have experienced through armed violence and displacement. For more than 4 years now, we have been implementing programs using sports and cinema as vectors of peace, dialogue and tolerance. The camp administrators have regularly reported to us how important these programs have been to reduce violence and boost morale among the residents, adults and children alike. But we always felt that we did not do enough for the children – those from the IDP camp as well as those from vulnerable communities surrounding our center in Juba. This is because children do need to play – it is essential for their sound development, it is essential for their sanity and their future – and that of their community.

Our partner Naguib Sawiris, made the same observation to himself when he visited our programs in the IDP camp last December. He could see children playing in dirt. This is when the idea came to him. Why not build playgrounds for them? We thought the idea brilliant and immediately moved to make it happen, obtaining spaces from authorities among other things. Today, we are very proud that the colorful playgrounds at the camp and at our center are real and alive with kids crowding them with an excitement that is literally contagious.