Decades of war have torn apart the social fabric of South Sudan, leaving both individuals and society at large deeply traumatised. Together with our local partners, Mensen met een Missie works towards restoring mutual trust, strengthening relationships and offering new future perspectives. We provide trauma healing therapies and self-help groups to improve personal psychological wellbeing. We support language classes and micro-finance opportunities to rebuild livelihoods, and we facilitate conflict transformation and peacebuilding initiatives to rebuild societies.

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+/- € 320.000

Budget

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9

Local partners

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4.800

Participants activities

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21.000

Indirect reach

A traumatised country

In a country where recurring armed conflicts, constant threats of violence and stagnation of economic development are a daily reality, change comes slowly. While key leaders signed a peace treaty in 2018 and certain regions are slowly stabilising, there is also scepticism – as many agreements have been broken in the past.

During the war, children were recruited as soldiers, sexual violence against women and girls was rampant, and people were executed without due process. The ongoing conflict has resulted in severe trauma in the South Sudanese population, both as individuals and as a community.

Many South Sudanese suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety disorders. There is a deep level of mistrust between people and (domestic) violence is fuelled by alcohol and drug use. 66% of the population lives below the poverty line, and more than 70% of adults are illiterate. Millions of people still reside in refugee camps both in South Sudan and neighbouring countries.

Our response

We, along with our nine local partners, are working in specific regions to rebuild the social fabric of that community, focussing both on the individual as well as the collective. We do this through:

Trauma healing

Trauma healing primarily centres around the individual, rediscovering oneself, getting a grip on what happened and learning how to deal with it. Both individual counselling and group therapy can be helpful in trauma healing, and capacitar is a commonly used method. It consists of simple physical exercises for stress management, used in case of sudden onset of strong emotions such as fear, anger and sadness.

Restoring social cohesion

We aim to restore social cohesion by initiating or supporting local ‘self-help’ groups that focus on improving people’s emotional, social and financial wellbeing. Trained local volunteers known as Care Providers run the groups and are often the first point of contact for personal problems. They also mediate in more severe interpersonal conflicts and even criminal cases, as the local judicial system can be unreliable.

Rebuilding livelihoods

In all regions, socio-economic development has proven to be a crucial aspect of restoring self-esteem and getting lives back on track. That’s why we provide literacy classes that are needed to (re)build livelihoods and support economic initiatives such as small-scale micro-credit projects and savings & loans plans.

Working towards peace

We support peace initiatives in the conflict-ridden region of Malakal, where we work with local and national religious leaders to start a “peace dialogue” – meetings with people from various social and ethnic groups on conflict transformation and the next steps towards regional peace. We also provide human rights and peace training for soldiers to improve the relationship between soldiers and civilians.

Culturally sensitive research

Trauma healing methods are often developed from a Western point of view and do not always reflect the South Sudanese experience of suffering and trauma. To make sure people receive the help that fits their needs, we collaborate with the University of South Sudan. They are researching the impact the current methods have and how the approaches can be made more effective and culturally appropriate.

We have gone from trauma to trauma healing. We have learned how to solve our own problems. First here was trauma and violence. Now there is love, and we’ve learned to share. – participant capacitar training in Wau

 

Together with our local partners we have managed to:

  • Train 22 people to become volunteer care providers, and provide further trauma healing training to 84 existing care providers.
  • Provide individual trauma counselling to over 600 people.
  • Train and organise 25 influential leaders in Malakal so they can play an active role in effectively addressing the regional tensions.
  • Provide literacy classes to 450 people in five communities
  • Reach nearly 8,000 people, positively affecting the lives of over 4,000 men, 2,000 women and 1,600 children.

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