In January 2015, Free Voice received funding from the Canadian government to pilot a new project seeking to reestablish lost friendships between children living inside and outside of the PoCs as a way to rebuild damaged community relationships in Juba. Below are some of the highlights from the current pilot project.

Conn@ct Friends Highlights

  • So far 130 children have been involved in the project
  • Five friendship exchange groups established: 3 groups inside PoC 1, 2 and 3, and 2 groups outside (Gudele and Hai Mission) and FV meets with them on a weekly basis
  • Friendship groups are writing letters to each other, drawing pictures, writing poems and stories, recorded audio messages for each other and even making puppets for dramas performances.
  • Children within the PoCs have been able to recognise voices of their friends from other PoC sites in Juba whom they have not seen in more than one year. In March they will be able to actually meet with these friends physically again through the end of project exhibition in PoC 3
  • Conn@ctFriends led Radio Miraya’s children and youth programming for World Radio Day. The programme included: interviews about the effect of conflict on children in the PoC, messages for peace from youth across the country, a story on friendship, drama on girls right to schooling, a poem on homeland and two songs. One poem has been published by the UN Media Centre
  • Media coverage has included: Al Jazeera Arabic and AlMowaqif newspaper. Reuters, CCTV and other international media have shown great interest in providing media coverage of the project and it’s innovative ways to re-build community relationships post conflict
  • Listening sessions were established for World Radio Day. Children and project facilitators who live inside the PoC who say they feel like they have been forgotten and that their voices are no longer valid were empowered to hear their views and voices live on Radio Miraya.
  • Terre des Hommes and Non-Violent Peaceforce have invited Conn@ctFriends to join in future partnerships with them to work with older youth groups and Internews offered support in kind.
  • Project activities and media productions are being shared via a project Facebook page (Our Corner), Spreaker account (website for publishing audio files) and ShareMedia (FV’s online media sharing platform for South Sudan)
  • An open community exhibition will be held inside PoC3 in March showcasing examples of meaningful intra-ethnic friendships between youth/children in Juba beyond the divides of the PoCs.
  • Children inside the PoCs have drawn up a list of their old schools and their lost friends and are excited about being able to reconnect after more than one year apart. The children themselves have been asked to think about how they would like to reconnect with lost friends.
  • Next step: Separated friends will be identified and where possible reconnected and existing friendships strengthened resulting in youth and children starting to rebuild honest and open relationships that were in existence pre December 16.

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