World Vision volunteers in South Sudan, child-friendly spaces

Volunteers spread the joy of caring and nurturing for the displaced children

By Zipporah Karani, Communications Coordinator

When the situation cooled down after the conflict in Juba in 2016, World Vision established its child friendly space (CFS) in Gumbo area. The initiative gave Mackline Lurit 23, the opportunity to work as a volunteer and support the displaced. As a member of the child protection committee, it gave her the chance to help children affected by the conflict. For her it was very fulfilling.

“I love playing with children and telling stories. I also do it in church. I have been doing since I was young”, says Mackline. Her effort is paying off. After three years, some of the children who once could not speak the English language are now more confident and even use it during their role playing activities. Most importantly, they are more active in interacting with one another.

As they play with the children, volunteers like Mackline and Aliseo closely observe the children for signs of abuse or any issues so they can be assisted immediately.

 

Aliseo James 33, is also a volunteer working with Mackline. Like her, he has a deep desire to work with children and do something to help address the child protection issues in the community. “I believe the children must be protected against gender-based violence and parents must understand that imposing discipline through beating or caning their children is wrong”, says James. He said the practice hurts the child not only physically but also emotionally.

“We always advise parents who visit the CFS to use positive language. We encourage them to stop the physical punishment”, he adds.

Mackline and Aliseo teach the children to play different games that help them learn the alphabets and numbers using the charts. The conflict and concerns for their safety have prevented them from attending school which is far from their house. Through CFS, Aliseo said they try to encourage them to go to formal schools.

James prepares the day's learning materials for the children at the center. He also helps discuss issues for parents to appreciate the value of protection and education for the future of their children.

 

With the team’s efforts, around 1600 children have transitioned from CFS to formal schools. Challenges like some of the girls working in the streets persist. Every time Aliseo and Mackline see them, they stop and find time to discuss it with their parents.

“We advise the parents to let them go back to school instead of work. In our own small way, we try to lessen this practice in Juba, says James. Every month, they gather the parents and discuss these issues with them.

“These volunteers were recommended by our partners in the communities we work with. We trained them and continuously guide them to do better work. With their commitment, more children are now participating in our CFS activities. Over 600 children come to the Gumbo CFS every day”, says Gabriel Genge, World Vision’s Child Protection & GBV Coordinator.

World Vision has established eight child-friendly spaces in South Sudan that has become a refuge for play and learning for over 10,500 internally-displaced children.