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South Sudan’s future lies in building the dreams of children like Zachariah

“I want to be an engineer someday”, says Zachariah Baptista, 17. Zachariah is in primary six and lives with his family in Yambio County, a part of South Sudan’s Western Equatoria State.

“My father is a tailor. Growing up, our house was always full of women and children who bring their fabrics to be sewn. The holiday season was always busy when everyone wanted to wear beautiful clothes.”

“I was always proud of what my father can do with his tailoring skills.” Zachariah recalls, “I started learning tailoring when I was 14. My father, Badista Raphael, now 48, works at a shop in Yambio market. Every day after school, I visit him to see his work sewing clothes. My love for tailoring grew as I watched him work.”

Zachariah helps 23-year old mother Lucia Bullen sew a dress for her baby. 

 

Zachariah was the only boy in his class of 13 women. The training runs for three months which started last 25 January 2021. “My elder brother and I used to help in sewing clothes when our father was tired or not at home. My brother ventured into electronic business. I followed my father’s footsteps.”

He continues, “One day, when schools closed due to coronavirus, Self Help Women Development Organization (SHWDO) called for me to take part in making sweaters. I gladly joined. “I was paid some money and used it to buy my own clothes and needs. I would like to use my skills to earn for my school fees and pursue my dream.”

Teacher Gloria Hipai guides Zachariah and Lucia how to design the dress.

 

Mary Perino, a 24-year-old, mother of eight, who also joined the training,  said she will be able to take care of her children’s education and medicines. “I will start sewing clothes after the training. I can charge the customer well if I provide the design and the fabric. The labor fee will also depend on the design”,  Mary says.

Every day after school, I visit my father to see him sew clothes. My love for tailoring grew as I watched him work.

Gbinzaramba Joseph, the SHWDO Project Coordinator says, “We equip the group with the knowledge and provide start-up kits that include fabric, sewing machines and needles so that the trainees can begin their own businesses. This will help them earn income and meet their family’s needs.”

World Vision, funded by Civil Society Facility, implemented the Western Equatoria Civil Society Capacity Building Project (WECAP)  in partnership with 10 local civil society organizations, six of them in Yambio and four in Maridi, respectively.

Gloria, also a mother of six, checks on her students progress as they put their skills to work.

 

Luke Wamite, World Vision WECAP project manager says, “The project has strengthened the capacity of the local civil society organizations to engage with the communities and become decision makers on community development.”

Apart from the skills trainings, a total of 279 staff members of these organizations were trained in various skills such as project proposal development, leadership and governance, monitoring and evaluation, human rights approaches, development of strategic plans, and advocacy.

A busy day for women learning new skills,  some even bring their children at the center.

 

As a result, they were able to influence some policies on issues affecting the community such as passing of local order by the former commissioner of Maridi, Hon. Owudada Daniel to ban child labor in Western Equatoria State.

The ban protecting children has encouraged them to enrol in school, bringing positive results in Maridi County. The enrolment in academic year 2020-2021 increased, but unfortunately got affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The trainings are done in shifts if there are many participants, but often they enrol a small number to maintain social distance.

This humble place is where Zachariah and the enterprising South Sudanese women build their future.

 

The member-organizations in Yambio are the Action for Peace and Development Organization, Consultation Center for Empowerment and Development Organization, Community Organization for Peer Educators, Hummingbird Action for Peace and Development, Self Help Women Development Organization, Union for Struggle against HIV/AIDS and Poverty.

In Maridi County, the members are Agency for Community Empowerment Association (ACEA), Environmental Rehabilitation Programme, Maridi Service Agency and Maridi Women Empowerment Association.

Story and photos by Jemima Tumalu, Communications Officer