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WPDI’s Young Peacemakers from the Former Central Equatoria State Gather for Their First Training Workshop

From September 8th-14th, 40 young aspiring peacemakers from four of the six counties in the former Central Equatoria State joined together for their first workshop in Juba. WPDI’s expert trainers were overwhelmingly impressed by our new cohort of youths and look forward to future engagements with them.

Over the week-long period, the youths were trained in three core areas:  information and communications technology (ICT), peacebuilding and conflict resolution, and entrepreneurship. These topics are the pillars of our flagship program, the Youth Peacemaker Network (YPN), which aims to empower young women and men from vulnerable areas so that they can return to their communities and promote peace and sustainable development through WPDI-sponsored activities or their own initiatives. 

As this was the first training workshop for our new cohort of peacemakers, the trainers evaluated their respective performances throughout the week. They were widely impressed, as were the youths with the quality of the training.  As Marline Jore Kenyi reported, “I was jobless before being selected and trained by WPDI. However, after the training sessions on entrepreneurship, I plan to start my own business. I will also encourage other youths to be creative and think about business and self-reliance.”

In addition to the core training topics, WPDI staff also arranged special sessions, in collaboration with our partners. A training on peace was delivered by Professor Brian Williams, a renowned conflict resolution expert from South Africa, whose command of the topic made a lasting impression to the youths. The ICT training was conducted by our partner, the ICT Society South Sudan, in close collaboration with Ericsson, another important WPDI partner. A team from the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict conducted a training on the linkage between peace and security as well as on preventing the recruitment of child soldiers. Additionally, UN Women presented a session on gender equity and the crucial role women should have in leadership and peacebuilding activities, while UNESCO’s locally-based Juba team conducted a training on leadership development.

All of the sessions were well-received, and the training truly had a deep impact on the entire cohort. Patrick Emmanuel Karaba noted that it persuaded him to “become a role model in my community and society so that I can change the mindsets of the youths in my community and the country at large.” Ropani Grace Arona added that she now “intends to be a peacemaker and businesswoman in my community and will encourage my fellow youths to engage in different kinds of productive activities and avoid conflict.” 

Once they are fully trained and ready to foster peace and sustainable development in their respective communities, WPDI will add to its goal of establishing a youth-led peace force in the Equatoria region of South Sudan. Indeed, thanks to the strong commitment of the IKEA Foundation and Education Above All – our main partners in the country – we have already created a 296-strong youth peace force in Eastern and Western Equatoria. Without a doubt, the presence of these young women and men will be an asset for the region and country in the years to come. All of WPDI looks forward to supporting their progress!