October 7-11 – Juba, South Sudan
Local faith actors and religious leaders with UNICEF South Sudan, Religions for Peace and the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities launched the first country WorkRock of the Faith and Positive Change for Children Global Initiative on Social Behavior Change (FPCC). The partners gathered for five days to discuss and work for change for children. The opening ceremony on Monday included a welcome from Archbishop Arkangelo Wani Lemi, Chairperson of South Sudan Council of Churches and remarks from Sheikh Juma Saeed, Vice President James Wani Igga and Kerida McDonald, UNICEF Senior Advisor of Communication for Development.
“Despite improvements in girls’ education, too many girls are still denied the opportunity to attend school. Lack of education is both a risk factor and a negative result of child marriage. Faith leaders and faith-based organizations are most centrally positioned to influence the ending of child marriage and therefore increasing girls’ education and their chances to fulfill their potential,”
Kerida McDonald, UNICEF’s Senior Advisor for Communication for Development
Children from JCC primary school in Juba performed a skit urging leaders to protect children in South Sudan.
“…I have a bright future inside me
only if you can listen to my cry
I am an African Child
I am a true South Sudanese Child
I am like a lost sheep in the bush without any shepherd to look after
Protect me from hunger
Protect me from sickness
Protect me from child labour…
I need your collective responsibilities all stakeholders
to protect and empower me to realise my dreams and aspirations
as an African South Sudanese child”
The remaining four days focused on a new way of working with UNICEF and local faith actors and religious leaders. Among attendance included religious leaders, faith actors, government UNICEF C4D officers from the three regions. The final day ended with the partners co-creating an action plan to work together within the regions.
The next steps will aim to have a core commitment from the government and to facilitate similar workrocks on regional and state levels. These commitments build on UNICEF and the World Food Programme’s recently signed joint memorandum of understanding with the South Sudan Council of Churches to collaborate for peace and child rights.
The FPCC will be further tested and adapted in consultations with UNICEF and local faith actors in Malawi, Liberia Niger, and Cameroon before the end of the year.