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WPDI launches a new deployment of its youth-empowering program in Western Equatoria, South Sudan

During his last mission from 27 to 30 April in South Sudan, our CEO, Forest Whitaker launched a new extension of our youth-empowering flagship program, the Youth Peacemaker Network in Western Equatoria and inaugurated our latest Community Learning Center in Yambio.

On April 28th, Forest Whitaker convened a launch ceremony in Yambio to officially mark the creation of our newly formed group of 20 youth peacemakers from Western Equatoria. Three years after WPDI started working on the Youth Peacemaker Network (YPN) in South Sudan, in the State of Eastern Equatoria, Forest Whitaker decided to extend our flagship program to the State of Western Equatoria (YPN-WES). Through this program, WPDI trains and supports young women and men as peacemakers and entrepreneurs who then work at transforming their local communities of South Sudan through peacebuilding and income-generating activities involving youth. With the help of our partners IKEA Foundation, Education Above All, UNESCO, Ericsson, Zain and the Swedish Postcode Foundation, whom we thank for their constant support, we expect that the program will eventually benefit thousands of community members in the area. 

The launch ceremony was attended by the Governor of the Gbudue State as well as other dignitaries, including from the other states covered by the YPN-WES, namely Amadi, Tambura and Maridi. Representatives of our partners also joined the ceremony, including UNESCO, UN Women, the IT Society for South Sudan and Zain. Four of the youth leaders from Eastern Equatoria, Hidita, Magdalena, Michael, and Ukongo also attended the ceremony to share their experiences with the new group and provide them with guidance as they are embarking on a long series of workshops.

The first Community Learning Center of the YPN-WES was also inaugurated in Yambio on April 29th. Our plan is to have one CLC in each of the 10 counties of WES in the coming years. These CLCs are a special feature of WPDI to strengthen communities. They offer access to computers and to the internet as well as courses in literacy, ICTs, project and business management. The CLCs also host programs to promote peace through sports and through cinema. We also organize events there to celebrate openness, tolerance, non-violence and dialogue. We are very proud that, for the first time, the manager of the Center and the ICT trainer are women, which we hope will constitute an example of woman empowerment and leadership for the members of the community, both male and female.