South Sudan has a long history of conflict: violence between tribes, clans and the long civil war with Sudan. Hostility becomes habit. Then the question becomes how can peace be built along these divides?
There has also been conflict between tribes, clans and sub-clans within South Sudan. There are many causes – competition for natural resources, cattle-raiding and most of all, political influence. However, these conflicts have become exacerbated recently by the supply of arms, and the activity of rebel militia groups.
The conflicts threaten socio-economic development. Above all, there are no major opportunities for people to be informed about or engage in peace building across these divides.
Santino Makol and Peter Gatdet came from different tribes. They trained as ministers together with Paulino Malou. With help, they planted churches in their home areas, and more recently, planted a church together in Juba. A church that crosses tribal boundaries, in the same way that their partnership does.
COCOA staff met with Santino, Peter and the board of their new organisation, LAID Foundation of South Sudan (LAFOSS). Their project ideas showed a great depth to their vision. A fishing project, education programs in Juba, and most critically, a peace-building workshop’s initiative. Having broken tribal barriers in their own organisation, they want to encourage the same among others.
LAFOSS is bringing together leaders from churches, schools, and women’s organisations, among others. At these workshops they talk about the costs of war and violent conflict. They provide training in how to resolve differences without any violence. Martha, a head girl at her school, said she didn’t want to talk about different tribes after attending a workshop.
“No,” she said. “Before the war we were in different tribes, but now we are not separated. No one was ‘this’ tribe or ‘that’ tribe at the workshop. We are not going to do that anymore.”
Peace is the critical issue in South Sudan. With this network of church, community, school and women’s leaders, they plan to hold a symposium. They want to continue the promotion of peace in their communities.
COCOA now works with Christian Mercy International (CMI) in the north, and LAFOSS in the south of the country – across the divides. With the help of supporters like you, people like Santino and Peter can build up a foundation of peace for their home.