|"I am happy with the idea of saving," the Chief of Mugali sub-county, Drici Francis said at the end of the workshop. "It particularly benefits and helps empower the women who are usually over-burdened with responsibilities at home which always require money."|
By Anyanzo Charles Jacob, Peace Education Coordinator, Nimule, JRS Southern Sudan
(Nimule, Southern Sudan) – Skills of peace club members in income generation and sustainable development are expected to improve after Jesuit Refugee Service trained more than 100 Sudanese on fund raising, management and saving in areas around Nimule, Southern Sudan.
The two-day training took place in the three sub-counties of Mugali, Nimule and Pageri in mid-November 2010, and was attended by 113 participants — 78 of whom were women. The training aimed to increase the skills of peace club members in order to help them sustain their clubs, which aim to promote peace and development at a grassroots level.
Poverty was identified as one of the key factors leading to conflicts within the community. In their discussions participants focused on how economic empowerment can be enhanced in order to bring about a lasting peace. Initiating a local savings and credit scheme, keeping cash records of all transactions and managing club funds properly can contribute towards this goal.
"By contributing to a [common fund], club members have the possibility to borrow small amounts of cash if they return it with interest," explained Anyanzo Charles, JRS Peace Education Coordinator in Nimule. “At the end of the year, the members can then share the accumulated interest and our experience shows that on average at least 770 Sudanese Pounds ($220) accumulate."
Local solutions like this help the communities understand the idea of saving and lending and facilitate savings while banking services are yet to expand to rural areas in Southern Sudan. “It is our aim to encourage a culture of saving among the local population,” said Mr. Anyanzo. "Micro-credits, income generating activities and groups aimed at introducing economic and social activities are useful tools to promote peace and well-being."
Saving money empowers women
During the workshop participants agreed on rules and regulations which will guide them in using their micro-credits well and in managing club activities, such as meetings or celebrations. They also discussed which activities they want to sustain and how. Each club got a cash box and stationery to make sure members have all necessary tools to manage their financial transactions. "We want to help clubs become as self-reliant as possible," said Mr. Anyanzo.
"I am happy with the idea of saving," the Chief of Mugali sub-county, Drici Francis said at the end of the workshop. "It particularly benefits and helps empower the women who are usually over-burdened with responsibilities at home which always require money."
Some of the women who took part in the training and who are engaged in cross-border trading in Nimule became excited when thinking about the opportunities the local micro credit scheme might offer them. “We are very grateful for this training and the material support. We now have sufficient tools and knowledge to manage our funds and keep united,” said Mary John, one of the women and chairperson of the peace club in Nimule.
Each club has 35 members, though many more people attended these training sessions than the members of these clubs.
Peace clubs strengthen community
JRS first started working with community peace clubs in 2008, in order to promote peace building activities at a grassroots level. The clubs are organized in sub-groups and spread across three sub-counties. Each club has around 35 members and is headed by one of 12 community peace facilitators who also work with the sub-groups.
Club members address issues regarding peace and stability in the community, mediate local conflicts, provide guidance and counseling to members of the community and raise awareness about their role as citizens, such as participating in the general elections and the recently concluded referendum. The members also use songs, drama and traditional dance to promote peace in their communities.
In 2010, JRS reached out to 75,000 people through a team of 12 community peace facilitators and 105 peace club members in three sub counties in Nimule. In 2011, JRS wants to establish three more clubs which should bring the overall membership up to 210.
Learn more about Jesuit Refugee Service in Southern Sudan.
202-462-0400 ext. 5946