South Sudan is the youngest country in the world. Just seven years old, it gained independence from Sudan on July 9th 2011. Unfortunately, optimism for this new country dampened in 2013 when a civil war broke out due to tensions between the then President and Vice President of the country. This led to a 5-year conflict that has forced nearly 4.2 million people to flee their homes in search of safety. Over 60% of these people are children on the move, highly vulnerable and exposed to threats of child soldier recruitment, psycho-social distress, family separation, abuse, neglect, exploitation, and sexual and physical violence.
World Vision Ireland believes in a better world for children. With the support of Irish Aid and the people of Ireland, we are implementing programmes in Upper Nile State, South Sudan, one of the areas most affected by the conflict.
One of our key interventions is the establishment of Child Friendly Spaces and Early Childhood Development Centres. These spaces provide children with an escape from the terrors they have been exposed to as a result of conflict and food shortages. They provide children with a safe place to play, to participate in activities and to access education. Trained volunteer teachers and animators provide support to help children cope with their experiences – providing a positive environment, monitoring their behaviour and running a variety of activities that help them process emotions and re-establish positive social relationships. These spaces focus on the physical and psychological recovery of the child, to ensure that no child is left behind. Most importantly, Child Friendly Spaces allow children to be kids again – to laugh and play and learn, just like other children all over the world.
A power-sharing agreement was signed between the warring parties in August 2018 in a bid to bring the five-year civil war to an end. While the situation in South Sudan is no longer escalating at a rapid speed, the country still remains in the grip of a serious humanitarian crisis.
Every child deserves a childhood – free from fear and violence. World leaders have committed to end all forms of violence against children by 2030. We must hold them accountable to this promise.
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Unfortunately, South Sudan is not alone in its experience of war. Conflict and protracted crises impact many countries across the world. Thanks to Irish Aid and the people of Ireland, World Vision Ireland are also supporting Child Friendly Spaces in Sudan and Syria – providing vulnerable children, on the move within these countries, with a safe place to be a child again.
Similar to pre-schools we have here in Ireland, Early Childhood Development (ECD) centers ensure the protection, wellbeing and holistic development of children from an early age. They start children on their learning journey from a young age, both academically and socially, helping them advance into primary school and deal with conflict related stresses they may face. ECD centres are a safe place for children to learn, socialise and play...
Disasters like conflict often dramatically disrupt and alter the lives of those impacted by it. Children are at the centre of it all.
With support from Irish Aid World Vision has built a Child Friendly Space to support internally displaced children in Sudan. It is a beehive of activity inside. The voices of the happy children fill the atmosphere as they engage in an array of interactive activities...
Ali, proudly wearing a purple sweatshirt and brown trousers, could not wipe the smile off his face while he was making shapes out of playdough with his brother at the Child Friendly Space, “it’s my favorite thing to play with,” says Ali. “I also really like playing soccer here.” With support from Irish Aid, this Child Friendly Space was set up by World Vision to support refugee children affected by the Syrian Crisis...