Crafts from the Camps of Juba, South Sudan
Be Yedana (With our Hand) is a livelihoods project supporting woman and girls currently living in the various camps that have arisen in and around Juba since the outbreak of conflict in December 2013. The initiative enables women and girls living in the camps to earn income through the sale of their handicrafts.
The initiative was started by Confident Children out of Conflict (CCC) as a combined psychosocial welfare and livelihoods project. CCC asked me to help develop and oversee the livelihoods aspect of the project. As part of this work, I established Be Yedana crafts- an initiative which supports women and girls living in the camps to generate an income through the creation and sales of their handicrafts. I project managed the start up of the initiative and lead on areas such as product design, skills training and project marketing. I managed the business side of the project and was responsible for ensuring the project generated enough income to become self-sustainable without the need for donor funding.
The project now has eight 'craft circles' across the city, supporting women and girls who were forced to flee their homes as a result of the conflict. The craft circles not only provide the opportunity for members to have access to an income, but also to benefit from the therapeutic nature of making and creating. Social workers meet weekly with each craft circle and facilitate discussions with the women around issues such as health and hygiene, gender based violence, child protection and human rights.
The initiative is currently supporting over 200 families and growing. Income received from the sale of their crafts enables the ladies to buy food and clothes for their families, send their children to school and in some cases, to return home with enough capital to be able to set up a new life after living in the camps for more than two years.
Within six months of project implementation, Be Yedana was able to generate enough income to fund a full time project staff member and expand to new communities. 85% of sales goes back to the maker and the remaining 15% enables us to grow the project and employ local young people to support the development of the initiative.
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What the Project Evaluation Said
“The groups have proven to serve as a safe and secure mechanism for the women to have emotional support to deal with the trauma in a local and traditional manner... Livelihoods skills integrated with psycho-social support helps community with positive coping strategies to overcome their hardships and become empowered to be effective and active agents of social change within their communities.”
Be Yedana Products:
recycled crochet rugs, mats and bags made from left over material from local tailors
hand embroidered bed sheets/table cloths
Peacebuilding through Folktales, South Sudan
Na'eesh Mabadh (Living Together): Peacebuilding through storytelling. Na'eesh Mabadh is a multi-media peacebuilding project. The project uses traditional folklore as a central platform from which to explore and discuss local concepts of peace and conflict, and the values that underlie these concepts
I designed Na'eesh Mabadh as an attempt to create a peacebuilding project that asked people to look within themselves, their own values and cultural heritage for solutions to conflicts. I wanted to move far away from Western ideology and methodologies and instead explore what lay within the rich cultural heritage of South Sudan.
Na'eesh Mabadh is a multi-media peacebuilding project which draws inspiration from South Sudan's strong tradition of storytelling and local folklore. The project collects, analyses, and shares folktales from some of the most conflict affected areas of the country. The project unpicks traditional stories to unravel meanings and find common human truths in an attempt to build understanding and appreciation amongst and across communities. The stories have been transformed into a unique set of radio programmes which ask listeners to reflect on the values, attitudes and behaviours being exhibited in the story and how they may either contribute to peace or exacerbate conflict. We aim to make space for people to open their mind to change; to provoke shifts in their ways of thinking about others and awaken the possibility for people to see their world and their neighbours in a new light.
In addition to the radio series, the stories have been collated into a printed anthology and form the beginnings of an online catalogue of South Sudanese folklore.
I designed and established the project mid 2015 for Free Press Unlimited, and continued to play an advisory role to the project team throughout implementation. This including advising on areas such as monitoring and evaluation, anthology design and illustration, pedagogical aspects of the project and radio programme scripts and formats. The project was funded by the European Union, through the International Organisation of Migration (IOM).