First Months On The Ground In South Sudan

September 6th, 2011 - by admin

Brenda Floors / The Nonviolent PeaceForce – 2011-09-06 00:15:54

First Months On The Ground In South Sudan
Brenda Floors, International Civilian Peacekeeper / Nonviolent PeaceForce

NZARA (August 30, 2011) — In May, the Nzara Field Team, consisting of six nationals and five internationals, set foot in the lush and tropical county near the border of Congo. We have been hard at work ever since, providing in several emergency accompaniments of victims of violence, especially children rescued from the Lord’s Resistance Army. In our first month, we also provided lodging for two traumatized young girls.

June started with the first big assignment for the team: doing a baseline survey Nzara, Ezo and Ibba counties. The survey assessed the situation and general safety and security needs, with a particular focus on the challenges children are facing. We introduced Nonviolent Peaceforce, got acquainted with six communities identified by the Ministry of Social Development, and gained acceptance from key stakeholders in the areas served.

Based on the results of the baseline surveys, we set out to build the capacity of selected duty bearers through a workshop that focused on the protection challenges women and children in the area face. With a greater understanding and awareness of the issues at hand, the trainees are now better able to continue full speed in building a safer and more peaceful South Sudan!

As newcomers to Western Equatoria State, we — together with local and international partners — organized the Celebration of the Day of the African Child (16th of June) in Nzara. The celebration turned out wonderfully, and was an excellent opportunity to work with other organizations and local actors and spread the word on NP’s presence and work.

Besides reaching out and doing fieldwork, we also focused on internal capacity building. South Sudan is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world, so there was plenty of reason for us to receive a training on how to act in case of encountering a mine on one of ourmany field trips!

We were also trained on first aid — which focused on the most common and dangerous situations in South Sudan — and a Conflict Early Warning Early Response System, which NP is working to establish. The latter training lies at the core of Nonviolent Peaceforce’s work, since it addresses mechanisms that can be put in close at any level in order to recognize and prevent, or respond as quickly as possible to, conflict.

In our first months, we’ve been busy laying the groundwork for success. We’re all looking forward to building ties with the community, protecting children, and preventing violence in South Sudan.

18 New Peacekeepers Train In Southern Sudan
Tiffany Easthom, Country Director / Nonviolence PeaceForce

Sudan is an unbelievably challenging environment, and your support and encouragement really matter as we do our level best to help reduce violence and improve civilian safety and security.

Thanks to our partnership with UNICEF and its million-dollar grant to NP, two new field offices focused on child protection and gender-based violence prevention will soon open. Seven new international peacekeepers and 11 new local peacekeepers have completed mission preparedness core training.

This is the first time local and international civilian peacekeepers have trained together. The whole group is buzzing with energy, excitement and commitment. All are ready for their intensive in-country training, after which they will deploy to their field locations.

I’m excited to share the group shot below with you of the new team and to introduce you to six of them. Next month, I’ll be in touch with more on the training, including some fantastic photos. Stay tuned!
Warmly with deepest thanks for all your support.

Kudzanai Mativirira
I am Zimbabwean. I have two sons. I worked as a police officer for 16 years, first as a constable and then as an inspector. I worked in public relations, the victim-friendly unit, investigations, recruiting and selection, training, and research and development.

From October 2009 to October 2010, I worked in Juba in southern Sudan as police advisor, serving as a liaison officer for the United Nations Missions in Sudan — United Nations Development Programme. In December 2010, I was recalled to southern Sudan and worked as a United Nations volunteer as a state public outreach officer for Western Equatoria state for the referendum.

I hold 22 certificates in various peacekeeping operations including one from the United Nations — Train the Trainer. I also have a diploma in adult education. As an adult educator, I encourage teamwork, respect for everyone, integrity and professionalism. My hobbies include netball, reading, exercising and listening to music.

Ajanth David
Ajanth David is from Sri Lanka, where he grew up in the small town of Batticaloa. He studied information technology until he joined the international nongovernment organization, Caritas as a communications and reporting officer on the tsunami project after the 2004 disaster.

After four years with Caritas, he joined Nonviolent Peaceforce as a field officer. He was promoted to head of the Vavuniya field office in northern Sri Lanka. He is passionate about working with his fellow peacekeepers to meet the needs of the civilians NP protects and for the opportunity to bring all he learned in Sri Lanka to the service of the people of southern Sudan.

María Helena Ariza
Colombian María Helena Ariza holds a B.A. in political science and a minor in law from Universidad de los Andes as well as an MA in international peace studies from the University of Notre Dame.

As an undergraduate, she interned at Colombia’s National Ministry of Foreign Affairs and conducted research on the reintegration of insurgent groups demobilized in the 1990s. After completing her studies, she volunteered at the Bogota district office for reintegration of ex-combatants and contributed to projects related to employment generation and reconciliation.

In 2007, she joined Associates in Rural Development and worked for 18 months in the Program Office of the U.S. Agency for International Development on alternative development projects in Colombia. She also worked as an intern in the Reparations Department of the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative, a local human rights advocacy organization in Kampala, Uganda, East Africa.

After receiving her MA, she joined the YWCA North Central in Indiana as a bilingual domestic violence advocate, where she did outreach for the organization’s domestic violence program. As an advocate for victims’ rights, she supported clients in their transition toward self-sufficiency and a violence-free lifestyle.

Brenda Floors
My name is Brenda Floors. I was born and raised an (unspoiled) only child in Amsterdam. I studied political science and psychology, although I dropped out of psychology because it was more about statistics than people. In October 2009, I obtained a master´s degree in international relations. I have always been interested in international relations focused on human rights and conflict, and have a passion for peace and justice. I also have a particular interest in organic agriculture and how to grow my own food.

Most of my work experience has centered on the Caribbean and Central America. I have traveled all over Europe, to parts of the Middle East and the United States. I couldn´t be more excited about the opportunity to step on African soil to explore, analyze and try to contribute to peace here.

I absolutely love to travel, learn new languages. I have already read and heard enough about the Sudan to say I cannot wait to get to know the culture and the people, while working for such an admirable organization as NP. I’m also excited to encounter wildlife, nature and Sudanese cuisine (especially Shorbet Adas y Creme Caramela)!

Lea Krivchenia
Lea Krivchenia grew up outside Chicago. Her high school years were taken up with her studies, music and anti-war activism. She has an undergraduate degree in women’s and gender studies and South Asian studies from Yale University.

She studied for a semester in New Delhi, India, and interned for the organization Women in Security, Conflict Management and Peace in India. After college, Lea went to Sri Lanka as a Fulbright scholar, doing a research project on the politics and anthropology of nongovernment organizations and expatriates.

During her time in Sri Lanka, she volunteered for Nonviolent Peaceforce and later worked for a year as the assistant to the country director. After leaving Sri Lanka, she spent four months at NP’s headquarters in Brussels, before arriving in Sudan to work as an international civilian peacekeeper. Lea is excited about this opportunity to work in the field for NP! She likes mottos, food and sensible shoes.

Tom Ogwal
I am Tom Ogwal, and was born in 1979 in Lira, Uganda. I hold a Bachelor of Arts degree in social sciences from Makerere University and will graduate from the same university with a master’s in social sector planning and management.

I grew up, studied and worked in Northern Uganda. I have worked in the districts of Lira, Pader, Gulu, Kitgum, Agago, Otuke, Soroti, Amuria and Katakwi, all conflict or post-conflict environments.

I have worked with former child soldiers, focusing on their protection and reintegration. I have also worked in the area of sexual- and gender-based violence. I was involved in peace-building work in Northern Uganda in the hope of contributing to ending the 20-year war involving Lord’s Resistance Army rebels and the Ugandan government.

I really love working for children, peace and development. I have vast hands-on experience in handling or dealing with former child soldiers from working at the Rachele Rehabilitation Centre. I know their psychosocial problems, needs and aspirations. I love children because they are the future of the world.

Poverty is a big problem in developing countries, and my focus is on contributing to the fight against child poverty, gender-based violence, illiteracy and disease. I hope to be part of making the world a better place, and NP gives me an opportunity to do just that.

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