Ayey Madut, National Coordinator Creators of Peace South Sudan, reports on a very special weekend.
‘I was asking myself why should I look for peace from outside instead of within me and I think I need to stop blaming others for my lack of peace, because, as a mother, my peace means peace within home and mother and nation. I realize that I have the power to make change within the nation just by loving myself’.
Creators of Peace (CoP) in South Sudan have been dormant since the 2013 conflict. It was the conversations at a facilitators’ training with a Creators of Peace elder from Melbourne, Australia that sparked the idea of resuming Peace Circles in South Sudan – we needed it in these critical times. With the conflict in 2016 adding additional layers of distrust and uncertainty, we wanted to get Peace Circles active again.
Our journey began in December 2018. We connected with former Creators of Peace facilitators and network and affiliates of Initiatives of Change (IofC) with an aim to talk through ways of moving forward. We did not have much luck as some were not in the country and others were unreachable. We decided to begin a series of consultations with friends, family and acquaintances. We sat together in fellowship and explored the Peace Circle materials. The time together was crucial and the results were positive – we now had a list of people and organisations interested in supporting our work.
With support from CoP internationally, our global network and IofC we were offered some funding – we now needed a suitable venue, participants and facilitators. In July 2019 we had a retreat with IofC colleagues at The Good Shepherd Peace Centre (Kit). There was no question that this was the right place for our first Peace Circle, also it was only 12kms from Juba, the capital. Our initial plan was to deliver the Peace Circle in August 2019, however, due to some challenges the final date was set for 18-20th of October 2019.
We invited women from our networks, who knew about our work and were willing to come with an open heart to exploring peace, peace creation and identifying causes of the destruction of peace. There was no formal advert as we had a limited number of spaces. Some of our participants were from Juba, the capital city of South Sudan. We had fourteen women sign up however, only six participants actually attended. In our debrief after the Peace Circle we concluded that it was best to invite up to 20 knowing that some would not attend. We asked the women how they felt at the end of the experience. Some said they were inspired, others said they were enlightened and found the experience educative.
With a lack of national facilitators, we collaborated with Creators of Peace Kenya, a neighbour of South Sudan. This has helped us kick start our Peace Circles here. We were delighted to have the support of Creators of Peace facilitators Dr Joy Mbaabu and Mediatrix Massava from Kenya. It is important for us to begin to invest in building a team of facilitators in South Sudan, it costly to continue to host facilitators from Kenya. Our hopes are to offer training to some of the women who came to the Peace Circle and also to re-engage with the women and facilitators that were active in 2013.
A special thank you to the global Creators of Peace Network, the members of Initiatives of Change South Sudan, peace mobilizers, Youth in Solidarity, New Page for Peace and all who supported. The fellowship and testing of the materials ensured the content and the English we used was understandable at Juba level.
‘With inner peace I will respond but not react to things.’ Mary a participant of South Sudan first Peace Circle October 2019
‘I enjoyed the time of reflection and silence to organize my thoughts and resolve how to approach challenges. I plan to invite positivity and I wish we can do this monthly for encouragement and re-affirmation of the pursuit of inner peace’. Mama Yar Paul a participant of South Sudan first Peace Circle October 2019
‘I need to spend more time with myself, do things for myself, strengthen my relationship with God and evaluate myself. This verse keeps ringing in me Psalms 8.32’. Rhoda a participant of South Sudan first Peace Circle October 2019
‘Peace is sensitive and should be handled with care. I wonder what is holding us back not to achieve inner peace. What can I put on my agenda? I will get rid of negative thoughts and look at my attitudes’. Mama Sarah James a participant of South Sudan first Peace Circle October 2019
‘I will think about the negativity among people with no reason and ensure I am not hating them just because I heard something about them. I will be truthful to myself, avoid lies, love equally and not isolate, share with friends when I am stressed, forgive and forget and be at peace’. Vicki, a participant of South Sudan first Peace Circle October 2019