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Our CEO, Forest Whitaker, in South Sudan to promote peace & dialogue

Our CEO, Forest Whitaker, was in Juba from 12 to 14 February to take stock of our peacebuilding programs in South Sudan. In this most fragile country, our flagship program, the Youth Peacemaker Network (YPN) aims at helping conflict-affected communities on their path back to lasting peace and resilience by mobilizing the energies of young women and men.
After a very successful 5-day workshop in Uganda where we brought together for the first time our youth peacemakers from both Uganda and South Sudan, Mr. Whitaker traveled to Juba to work with the local team on the expansion plan for the launch of the YPN in former Western Equatoria State scheduled for May this year.
The visit was also an opportunity to meet with our partners on the ground, such as USAID South Sudan, VISTAS, UN Women, South Sudan Football Association and UNESCO. Among other key stakeholders, Mr. Whitaker held a meeting with Mr. David Shearer, the newly appointed Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for South Sudan and Head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

One of the most exciting moments of Mr. Whitaker’s mission in South Sudan was his visit to the Protection of Civilians (PoC) site for displaced persons in Juba, where WPDI sensitizes more than 3,000 young residents to peace through conflict resolution education trainings, community dialogues as well as sports and cinema-based programs. Mr. Whitaker’s presence was all the more opportune that it occurred on “Peace Engagement Day”, a day organized by WPDI and partners at the POC with a series of mini-championships where youth teams, created under the aegis of WPDI, play against each other in short, fast-paced games. Peace Engagement Days integrate sports, community dialogues and life-skills education with a focus on promoting values, attitudes and behaviors of peace, dialogue and reconciliation.

This event has become a monthly rendezvous at the POC to reach out to significant numbers of the close 38,900 community members, as WPDI and its partners can directly sensitize them in their areas of competence, including on such issues as human rights and sexual and reproductive health. The success of the event further reinforces Mr. Whitaker in his determination to redouble efforts to promote peace in South Sudan.