“When I go back, I will do so many things to support my country”
- 85 Articles
- Age 24
My name is Vuni, I am 20 years old and I live in a refugee settlement in northern Uganda.
Fleeing war in search of peace and security
Children and young people like me live in refugee settlements in Uganda because our country, South Sudan, has been disturbed by war. I am from Nimule, in the south of the country, which I left on 14 August, 2015. My Mother and I decided to flee when the fighting broke. My father died years before. Mum asked me to take her away. She wanted us to be free and secure from the fighting. We registered with the UN at the border and were brought within days here to a refugee settlement. Many children and young people have lost their fathers in the fighting, are orphaned and travelled to Uganda alone, or with their mothers and older siblings. I know many older girls who are heading their households and who are looking after their younger siblings. Life is very, very hard for them.
Education and vocational training for a brighter future
Here in the settlement, Dinka and Madi people live together, side by side. We are very happy that the government has welcomed us here in Uganda and provided us with security. We have rescued our lives and feel good because there is no fighting, but it is not good in the long term to be separated from our country, South Sudan.
The big issue affecting young people is that so many youth are at
home, as the government and agencies working here, aren’t able to
support all of them in education or skills training.
The good news is that many younger children now attend primary
school and are able to catch up on their studies that were
disrupted in South Sudan and when they fled the war. Support has
also been given to adolescent girls with sanitary pads so that
they can go to school. It’s good that they can concentrate on
their studies rather than being bored at home. Some talented
students have been able to go to school in nearby areas and to
attend vocational studies. And Plan International will soon be
supporting a number of students do vocational studies in our
nearby town of Adjumani.
But in the settlement, we don't have a secondary school or other vocational study centre, which young people can easily access. Too many young people are stay idle; many young men are drinking out of boredom and frustration and do the same things everyday, like games and cards, which don't support them in learning or earning money for their futures. Some of the youth came with their education papers, but still are not able to get jobs as there is no work to do in the settlements. And they end up staying at home. There are also young child mothers, who travelled alone from South Sudan and then married when they got to the settlements, because there is nothing they can earn to secure their future.
Building skills and awareness through sport and drama
When you first reach a place like the settlement, you ask
yourself “why am I here?”, “what has caused me to come here”?
“and when I go back, what I am supposed to return with, what will
I have achieved?”. The answer I have come out with, is that if
possible, I will be able to continue my studies so that when I go
back, I will do so many things to support my country so that I
can promote peace and we can educate people on how to sustain
When I came here, I enjoyed staying with the elder people, who
encouraged me to support the children and young people here, to
mobilise their participation in games and drama, and to introduce
games, like football, netball volleyball. I started new teams for
different ages, and especially for girls, who were not so much
involved, but who now love playing volleyball. I move between the
areas of settlements, encouraging matches between teams and
motivate them to take part. I also started a drama club, to bring
out the memory of our people and to help children and young
people to put all the ideas they have in their brain into
expression. We have now done two performances; one was on how we
travelled from South Sudan to here, and the second was all about
domestic violence in the settlements and how to stop it in our
communities. We are right now practicing a drama about the
environment; how we are going to keep the environment clean and
how to use our resources in a good way. Young people are engaged
in recreational activities, school clubs and groups for
adolescents funded by Plan International, where they learn skills
in peace-building and creating a safe environment for children,
but what every young person wants is access to more education, or
a secure job to feel positive about their future.
My message to decision makers
We are thankful for the Government of Uganda and global donors,
for all the good things you have done for us; if you hadn’t been
here for us, we don't know where our lives would have gone and
We request you to keep helping us, as we look ahead to our future
here in the settlement and when we finally return home:
1. Help us with education, especially investment in secondary
schools so that children can complete their education, that has
been disrupted by years of war and fighting in South Sudan
2. Develop a vocational school in the settlement here, for those who can do best in this area, so they can sustain their lives through skills like carpentry, catering, tailoring and building
3. Support youth in games and sport, which is so important because sport can help develop new skills and concentration and makes young people feel happy
4. And finally, please help us stop the war and fighting in South Sudan so that our people can go back to their homes, to start a new life.
South Sudan has been crippled by conflict for years. It is one of
the worst places to be a child with limited education
opportunities. So many young people are out of school. A
generation of children are facing life lasting impact of poor
access to education.
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