The city of Aweil in South Sudan has been in partial lockdown since March. And while lockdown is an important health and safety practice during the pandemic, it brings new challenges to the surface.
Aweil, in the north of South Sudan, borders Sudan. This means many Internally Displaced People (IDPs) end up in Aweil and the surrounding districts. Though Sudan and South Sudan are now separate countries, they are still closely connected in many ways. IDPs, because they have been moved around, don’t have assets like land and cattle. So, many run small businesses, selling essentials like tea, groundnuts, or charcoal. Lockdown meant that their businesses stopped. With no assets to fall back on, this has left them and their families without enough money to buy food and other necessities.
Akook, a charcoal seller who could no longer operate his business, said that his life had become a struggle. On top of dealing with the lockdown restrictions, Akook is also facing environmental restrictions to the charcoal industry. In an effort to stop environmental destruction, the government wants fewer trees to be cut for charcoal.
But thanks to the support of people like you, Akook is able to stay resilient in the face of these struggles. GMP partner, Christian Mercy International (CMI), has been able to provide necessities including food and soap to 130 business owners — including Akook!
“I was excited to receive support,” Akook says.
With the lockdown anticipated to lift soon, CMI are also developing plans to help these vulnerable people to build up resilience. With the help of supporters like you, CMI will be able to set aside money to give business owners like Akook a small start-up grant, to get their trade moving again!
In addition to this, CMI is exploring ways to provide training and education to those in the charcoal industry. With the new environmental restrictions, it will help them to move into other, more sustainable industries, like fishing!
These things are not possible without you! When you give your offering this Christmas, you provide people like Akook with necessities like food and soap. You are helping them become resilient and independent, able to develop their own businesses — even through the pandemic.
Please visit www.gmp.org.au/strongertogether to find out more, and learn how you can take part in the COCOA Christmas Offering.