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Introducing Hidita Scovia, Our Inspiring Youth Peacemaker from South Sudan
In communities impacted by conflict and endemic violence, the Youth Peacemaker Network (YPN)—WPDI’s flagship program—seeks to bring together young women and men who want to be forces for good and voices for change. WPDI trains and equips young women and men in mediation, ICTs, life skills, and entrepreneurship so they can become peace leaders and business managers who work within their communities to cultivate peace and sustainable development. To achieve these results, WPDI works with a number of strategic and financial partners including UNESCO, Ericsson, the IKEA Foundation, the Education Above All Foundation, The MasterCard Foundation, the Swedish Postkod Foundation, and Zain. Here is the story from a young leader we have trained and mentored in South Sudan.
Hidita Scovia (South Sudan)
I was born during the conflict between the north and the south of Sudan. When I was four, my family was forced to move to Uganda, where we lived in a refugee camp. I still remember how tough this journey was. My mother had to carry both me and my younger brother as we walked. I later came back to South Sudan to complete primary school. But there were no resources for education in South Sudan, so I had to move back to Uganda where I studied agriculture at the university.
Since joining the Youth Peacemaker Network, I have learned many things and have connected with new friends all over the world through Facebook, Twitter, and email. I have developed my ICT skills, and I am now an ICT consultant for my colleagues at home, in school, and in my community. WPDI’s trainings have taught me how to mediate conflicts and resolve disputes in our communities. These skills have given me a new confidence that makes me feel great. This is very important for me as a woman: people are sensitive to the fact that I have been trained in these areas, so my being a woman does not get in the way. I have become a resource and a role model.
I have always wanted to be a peacebuilder, and WPDI has helped me become one. It was a great honor for me to have been enrolled as a mediator by the newly elected governor of Imatong State to help him foster dialogue at a series of peace conferences he organized in the state. We have done some mediation on land and other territorial issues. In some villages, the fighting had been going on for some time because revenge killings had become regular. Our mediation can help put an end to the bloodshed. Recently, an armed group killed a young boy, which started a cycle of conflict between two communities. The two communities have accepted a mediation process that is still ongoing, but we have managed to put an end to the fighting.
As promoters of peace, we also worked to inform people on the peace agreement that was signed between the conflicting parties of the 2013 civil war. This was important because many people did not know that a peace process had been started and that an agreement had been reached.
When I go to communities, I advise young people to be peaceful. They must see that if they engage in violence, people will not listen to them. Problems are solved by forgiveness and by sharing ideas. It is very important to educate youth and people in general on the value and dignity of every human being—and especially, to promote values of gender equality.
We see that much of the violence results from the widespread poverty in our country. One of my fellow peacemakers and I are developing a community-building project to help reduce this poverty. We realized that food in our state is expensive because lot of it is imported from Uganda, and there are shortages in South Sudan. The conflict has pushed people out of their land. Because many have not returned, the land often remains uncultivated. Our idea is that young people can provide food and generate income for themselves. Everyone will benefit and this will help create peace.