Becoming a humanitarian storyteller -- Jemima Tumalu, a communications officer at World Vision South Sudan - CORE Group Partners Project, reflects on the power of telling stories about the resilience and strength of women and children in South Sudan, and how these stories can touch hearts and minds to action.
“Growing up, my community supported girl child education. I remember a female schoolteacher whom we all admired in the community. She always encouraged us girls to study hard in order to be whatever we wanted to be in the future. Without the support I got, I would not be here, serving my community as a Communications Officer for the CORE Group Partners Project in South Sudan.
Thanks to the bold women that paved the way for my generation, there was a rise in the number of girls who went to school to get an education when I was younger. Increasingly, both boys and girls took part in domestic work such as washing dishes, sweeping the compounds, and even fetching water, and this enabled more girls to have time to concentrate on their studies. Now, we see a generation of women in South Sudan who are empowered and are contributing to positive change not only in their families but also in their communities, both socially and economically.
I was privileged to choose a career I was passionate about while still a young girl, and my family supported it without a doubt. In the news, we could hear stories of women being beaten by their husbands, children dying from preventable diseases like polio, measles, and yellow fever, and outbreaks of diseases such as cholera due to a lack of information. I became interested in stories and knew that I wanted to share such stories to create an impact in my community.
My dream for South Sudanese women and girls is for them to have access to resources, services, and information and have the right to participation and decision-making at the family, community, and country levels because their voices count.
Working with vulnerable communities, people living with disability, and families, especially women and girls in the hard-to-reach areas and neglected communities of South Sudan, is my dream come to life. I tell stories of resilient women, girls, and male champions and community heroes like Lino, a home health promoter in Kapoeta South County, who helps mothers in the fight against diseases and helps communities live happily and healthily.
I have enjoyed sharing stories about resilient women like Nadia in Magwi County of Eastern Equatoria State. Nadia’s experience with her son being diagnosed with Polio inspired her to be a polio advocate, sharing information with her community members about the importance of routine immunization.
Amplifying women’s voices in digital spaces
Digital technology makes it possible for such inspirational stories about women in South Sudan to be shared within the country and reach a global audience not only remain within but also reach globally. Through websites and social media, I can publish such stories to share learning and amplify the voices and contributions of women in South Sudan.
I am using technology to engage different audiences about my rights and those of girls and women, and communities in South Sudan. I encourage others to use digital spaces like social media to advocate for the rights of the poor and marginalized communities to reach wider audiences and join forces with others to increase their impact.
My dream for South Sudanese women and girls is for them to have access to resources, services, and information and have the right to participation and decision-making at the family, community, and country levels because their voices count. Laws should also be put in place to encourage girls and women to go to school to realize their dreams, protect them from sexual exploitation, and prioritize their well-being.
My favorite app is the radio app because the information shared on the radio has influenced and empowered women in different locations. I have heard women share their stories, encourage others, and advocate for their rights. I feel happy when I see and listen to women talk about their challenges freely and seek guidance acting as role models for other women, which leads to creating more spaces for women who can depend on each other for advice.”
(Story originally published on the CORE Group website)