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South Sudanís ambitious children benefit from child-friendly spaces

Rachel's handwriting skills have improved since she started attending the Child Friendly Space
Rachel's handwriting skills have improved since she started attending the Child Friendly Space
August 6, 2012

Twelve year-old Charles Kamito spends his time playing football and dreaming of being a doctor.

Charles is one of the thousands of returnees from Sudan to the newly independent South Sudan. His home, for now, is a transit camp in South Sudan’s capital, Juba.

The refugee camp is located at Juba city’s state-run National Teacher Training Institute. The camp is home to a huge number of South Sudanese nationals returning from Sudan following independence.

Plan's Child Friendly Spaces Program

Plan began implementing its new Child Friendly Spaces program at the transit camp in June to help returnee children recover from the trauma associated with the upheaval of repatriation.

The spaces provide an environment for playing and reading time, while cushioning the children from hostile environments.

“Football keeps me busy and the institute offers me a great environment to pursue my dream of becoming a doctor,” says Charles.

“I feel secure here because the environment is very friendly and the children here are lovely. Actually, I feel like I’m in a different world in this place,” says Jacqueline, a 14 year old returnee from the North.

Students Benefit from Continued Learning Opportunities

Emmanuel Sworo, a Child Friendly Space Facilitator at the center, says: “The transit camp is proving that children who are offered a good learning environment and sporting facilities are happier and show greater interest in continuing learning.”

Plan has been providing the children with supplies ranging from soap, swings, color pencils, writing pads, footballs, netballs, basketballs, whistles, and treats such as biscuits.

Rachel Mutwoil, another student, says scholastic materials such as pencils, writing pads, and coloring pens have helped her improve her reading and writing skills.

“Before I joined this place my handwriting was very poor. However with these writing materials, I am happy that now my handwriting has improved,” she says.

She adds: “I’d like to become a finance minister after completing my studies, so that I can fight corruption. Corruption is holding back the growth of the nation and makes the children suffer.”

Success Leads to Continued Growth

The success of the Child Friendly Spaces has prompted calls to replicate them in other parts of Southern Sudan to offer support to a plethora of children being repatriated from the North.

"I'm appealing to Plan and other organizations to extend the same love and care they have showed these children to other parts of the country,” says Sworo.

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