After training, Bentiu youths promise to solve local conflicts

The youth attends one of the training sessions

By Jale Richard

Two-day training on synergizing nonviolent actions and peace building in Bentiu PoC has empowered youth leaders both in the displaced peoples camp and Bentiu town to resolve conflicts in their communities.

The training was conducted by Michael Gorjin, the Norwegian People’s Aid Project Coordinator for South Sudan. The training covered definition of violence, tools for effective conflict resolution, negotiation skills, and how to use nonviolent actions to resolve local conflicts.

At least 20 youth leaders including some from Bentiu town attended the training at a youth centre in the PoC.  It was tailored to empower the youths with skills of peace building through using nonviolent actions and conflict resolution techniques.

Throughout the training, the facilitator and the youths referred to local examples of conflict and how they were resolved, in order to enable the participants deeply understand the content of nonviolent actions and conflict resolution.

Mary Nyalam Khan who benefited from the training revealed that, she learned tools of conflict resolution that she did not know about.

She said she is going to use the knowledge to resolve a conflict between her and her neighbor which has been there for along time.

“This training has been beneficial to my work. Between me and my neighbor, we don’t greet each other. Our sons do not go each other’s homes. There is a lot of tension between us but from here, I am going to reach to my neighbor so that we can resolve our conflict,” she promised.

“I am going to call the neighbors so that we can sit down and resolve our conflict,” she added.

Another trainee, Gordon Koang said he learnt a lot of things in relation to conflict resolution, negotiation skills and use of non-violence in pushing for a course.

“I now know how not to react in obstructive ways in case I am demanding my rights,” Koang said.  He said he will use the skills he learnt to effectively engage conflicting people in negotiations in order to identify their dividing factor and resolve them.

“When I go home, I will be able to intervene to solve conflicts,” he promised. I will not take sides because if you intervene by taking side in any conflict, it may fuel the conflict further,” Mr. Koang noted.

He urged his colleagues to engage in peace-building activities in order to build confidence and unite the polarized youth of South Sudan.

“Many youth are divided by the conflict, he noted. “We are trying to bring them together,” he said revealing that, a group of youth supported by Action for Conflict Resolution visited some youth sin cattle camps in order to persuade them reduce cattle raiding as part of reducing cattle related conflicts.

“We told them the importance of not raiding cattle of the other sub-clans. The youths in the rural areas are sometimes wild. They ask you who are you, what do you want, and it is very hard to approach them. You need to be prepared so that they can respond to your initiatives,” he advised the youth.

Michael Gorjin, NPA Project Coordinator explains one of

the concepts during the training

For Bik Malual, the training has been an-eye opener and a connector for the youth from different sectors of the PoC.

“I am happy to meet new people in the training. I would not have known all of you if I did not come for the training,” he said.

“I have learnt that nonviolence is better than violence because violence can harm but through nonviolence you can achieve what you want without hurting anybody,” he added.

Mr. Malual said using violence to push for a course is not a good idea because “even when the country is at peace, the violence would breed hatred between people of different communities.”

He promised not to take sides in any conflict, rather offer to mediate the conflicting parties so that they can avoid harming each other.

“Taking sides in a conflict cannot solve the conflict. Instead negotiating by understanding their needs and interests will help provide solution to resolve the conflict,” Mr. Malual added.

Another youth, Magdalene Nyabon expressed satisfaction after completing the training. She said she will use the knowledge and skills to resolve local conflicts.

She said in solving conflicts, the youth should be creative, recalling that when she was 14, she saved a man from police officers who were torturing him.

“I looked at the man and I started crying loudly. The police asked why I was crying.  I said I was crying because they were beating the man badly. They told me to stop crying and they stopped beating the man,” she narrated.

For Mary Nyakoang, she heard about Non Violent Actions for the first time. She said even if the idea is new; she is going to adopt it and share it with the rest of the  women who did not have the chance to be trained.

Nyakoang said, she will start by preaching peace at her home and her neighborhood. She urged the youths to campaign against domestic violence at homes, which she said was rampant in the community.

“Some of us here are married and others are not yet married. I urge you all to prevent domestic violence because it is a cause of conflict. Don’t use violence against your wives and children at home. If there is a misunderstanding, it down and negotiate,” Nyakoang appealed.

Gorden Koang Both from the Youth Union acknowledged that the training will help them resolve local conflicts peacefully.

“Nonviolent action and peace building is key because it gives us techniques on how to address issues. The peace agreement is here and let us keep peace and build it among ourselves,” he urged the fellow youth.

“Let us visit each other in the PoC and in Bentiu town to ensure that our relationships are strong if not, the work we are doing will be meaningless. Let us leave name-calling and stereotyping. Let us not call ourselves Dinkas, and rebels because now we are in peace,” he added.

He said for the youth to help heal trauma in the displaced persons camp, there was need to forgive each other.

Mr. Konag added that to forgive and reconcile, there was need for the people to accept the truth.

The youth demonstrate how power and support works

 Michael Gorjin, the NPA Project Coordinator who conducted the training encouraged the youth to interact with each other in order to rebuild South Sudan.

“The youth make up 72% of the population and the power is in the youth. Make use of this opportunity to fight for your rights but in peaceful and nonviolent means,” he urged the attentive youth.

“Synergizing nonviolent actions means building peace without creating conflicts,” he said.

Gorjin also advised the youth to devise a strategic plan in order to work towards solving some of the numerous challenges facing them.

He also urged the youth to share the knowledge they attained from the training with others who did not attend in order to ensure they are empowered.

“You are the leaders of today not tomorrow. Go out to claim your rights and be active achieve what you want,” he added.

Bol Buom one of the youth leaders promised to share the knowledge he got from the training with his friends who did not have the chance to be trained.

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