Jolien Veldwijk – Peacebuilding Initiatives Rotating Header Image

International Women’s Day

Peace Workshops in Makernhoum and Barpakanyi

To celebrate International Womenís Day WfWi is hosting a global campaign called Join Me on the Bridge. In South Sudan, Rumbek area, thousands of women from Makernhoum and Barpakanyi will join together on Barnam Bridge calling for an end to war and gender based violence. They will demonstrate that women can build bridges of peace and also development for the future. In solidarity WfWi are gathering supporters on bridges all over the world- all of us saying no to war, no to poverty, no to violence, no to illiteracy and yes to peace and hope.

Two Peace workshops were hosted in preparation of the Bridge event, one in Makernhoum and one in Barpakanyi. 200 participants shared their vision and their image of piece and explained how they would like to see peace be achieved in their communities. The women arrived at the workshops singing songs of Door, peace. Their practical vision of peace is for their husbands to stop fighting. Two main causes for the fighting have been identified, namely hunger and illiteracy.† When you are hungry you can fight your sister or your brother, because you take their food by force. When your stomach is full, you will just greet your sister.† The women also believe that uneducated people fight people without a reason. When there is an argument, they donít talk about it, but they start fighting immediately.

In Barpakenyi there are two clans, the Durchek and the Durfar, who love fighting. They fight about the cattle in cattle camps and when they come home they continue to fight with their wives and children. But through the WfWi-programme the wives of the two clans are in peace together. They donít fight each other for water at the water pump and they help each other out when one of them is in need. A few participants compare peace with a seed. The peace starts in the programme of WfWi where the women learn how to communicate with each other and work peacefully together with women from conflicting clans. From the programme the participants take the seed of peace to their homes where they teach their children how to talk instead of fighting with each other, and to their communities where they befriend their neighbors and share the water pump in a peaceful manner.

The participants of the Peace workshops were asked to draw their images of peace. As you can imagine, for women who are illiterate and have never been to school, this is quite a challenge! Some of them didnít even know how to take the cap of the marker. However, after some encouragement the drawing began and the women created beautiful artwork. They drew hearts, because they believe that peace is love and peace will have to start from within. They sketched crosses, because God brings peace. The women who take part in the literacy classes wrote part of the English alphabet, because when people are educated they wonít fight anymore. Other women were extremely proud of being able to write their names. The number 200 was written down, because that is the amount of participants to be expected at the Bridge Event. The workshops were closed with songs the women have composed and written themselves about peace, about door, because they want to do a lot of singing, dancing and shouting together to claim peace for themselves, for their families and for their communities.

Local Peacebuilding Initiatives in South Sudan

In less than 36 hours I will be leaving for South Sudan, although I will spend some time in Uganda first in order to get a visa.

In Sudan, I will be visiting an organic farm project set up by Women for Women International for women victims of war. The aim of this programme is to empower women to rebuild their lives after they’ve gone through so much throughout the war. I will interview these women and document their life stories and find out how their involvement in the programme helps them to rebuild the lives they’ve lost and how they are making a different to their families and communities. We would like you to provide detailed case study information on 2 women who are WfWI programme participants, who have come to us as victims of war, and through their involvement in the programme are rebuilding their lives, and making a difference to their families and, ideally their communities.

This voluntary project is related to the Join Me on the Bridge Campaign, a campaign to celebrate International Women’s Day and bring peace to the nation. I will write more about this campaign later.

I will try to write various blogs about my experiences in Uganda and Sudan, because as you can imagine, my trip will be very adventurous and exciting! I hope you will be interested in following me on this journey and celebrate the power of women and peace with me!