Promoting Peace through Play
By Jayne Batzofin
An’na yawu ini – We are here
Arriving in Juba, South Sudan, for the first time, I immediately noticed the smell in the air – a sweet smell of red earth perfuming the area. The next noticeable feature were the broad smiles from officials welcoming us to Juba, and their smiles widened even further when they heard it was my first time and they said “you are most welcome”. This greeting continued throughout the week, of ever widening smiles, welcomes to Juba and open arms.
There are definitely stark impressions the international news delivers in regards to South Sudan and the many challenges it faces towards its goals in reaching peace. This, for me, is the great privilege of being able to visit a country and experience it and its people first hand. You realise that there are a multitude of realities being experienced, very much in the same way as what it means to live in South Africa. You can absolutely see the hardship in Juba, you are aware of the military presence, and the visibly marked UN and NGO vehicles. Yet you also become aware of the warmth and resilience of the people, and their burning desire for peace to be achieved.
This week we worked with two organisations who are both striving towards achieving peace in their communities: the Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative (WPDI) https://www.wpdi.org/ and Anataban https://www.facebook.com/AnatabanSouthSudan/. While the organisations have different approaches and programmes, they are both predominantly targeting youths; trying to provide a platform for them to communicate their grievances and find peaceful ways towards resolving conflicts. Clowns Without Borders (Sweden and South Africa) came to observe and witness how these organisations operate, in order to find bridges of connection to build sustainable partnerships for future collaborative projects. We attended Dialogue Forums, After-School Peace Clubs and the UN Women’s Peacemaker Ambassador training. We were given the opportunity to do a clown workshop with some of Anataban’s artists as well as have some much loved play time with the children at the Confident Children out of Conflict (CCC) centre. The week’s overall impression imprinted on my mind is the sound of laughter and the sea of brightest smiles, bringing us together, realising the power of promoting peace through play.
Salam Hagana – The Peace is Ours