April 2015

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By Daniel Majack Kuany – Juba

One Arm Widow, Samira Deng Chan Kon, employed 150 women in a farm, in Biem Nhom county of Unity State. Samira’s acknowledgement got her an award as the outstanding female agriculturalist by the federation of Business and professional women; it came in commemoration of International Women Day last month for them to support women achievements in political- economical in South Sudan.

Samira the mother of five children told Real Woman Magazine that her husband died as an SPLA (Jamous) division leaving her to pick up the responsibilities alone.

“I lost my husband during the liberation struggle leaving me no option apart from starting farming as the only way to rise and educated the siblings and I had the idea of farming for quite a longtime and I tried enough to do it.” She noted

Recho-ma-pro-final-28Samira believes farming can unite the families, communities and neighbors leave alone the source of food to the members hence food insecurity in the state.

Widow Samira said, that her farming sector is predominately for cultivating vegetables crops among others sustainable farming due to high demand of vegetables product by people.
“My farms have helped a lot of people, organizations, families because everybody needs to have their meal cream with vegetables,” widow Samira stress She explained that the full establishment of the farms starts in 2008 and people stop transporting vegetables, fruits from neighboring Sudan Samira farming earned her recognition within the country as well across the globe where she travels to many countries to learn multiple skills of technical knowhow.
“I went to New York in 2010 to attend world women conference as well Egypt in 2013 and China and gave speech on my farming scale because they need to know what I do. I have been able to learned many skills and also meet many women entrepreneurs around the world. The visits to Gunzoosu province in China inform me that women can do serious businesses and can manage industries. I interact with many women managers and they gave me their contacts and promise us to be visiting them every five years. We were given some money to increase our activities.”

Samira main reason for farming is to provide food to her children as well to sell the vegetables which enable her to pay school fees, health services, and clothing among others. “I also use farming to create job
opportunity to fellow women so that they can get some piasters at the end of the month as well get some
product for their family’s sauces”. She narrated saying, Biem Nhom County has good River water and for this water resource I thought on how to utilize the River, which foster the activity in the county.

“I wish the present of peace in the country so that many people join me in agriculture and through farming we can eliminate food insecurity in the country. In Biem Nhom, the Union of Women association and Shaab
Wayet (one people) compose of financial constraint of Sudan schools certificates student get inspired.”

The involvement of Norwegian people aids (NPA) in 2009 where they gave me sum of money to buy water pump generator, and seeds while other organizations provided necessary mechanize tools.
Samira felt thankful to the former National Minister of Gender, Child and social welfare, Mama Agnes Lasu who help her and other Women across the ten states of South Sudan. Samira mentions that, the most challenging problem is insecurity because we work deeply in the bush. Transport for transportation of vegetables to other neighboring states.

Samira appeals to all the women in South Sudan not only to depend and wait from their husbands even if your husband could be a minister; there will be times he will be remove in the position because ministerial positions are not permanent or one hand cannot clap.

This can be done by embracing small-scale business Samira said through all this struggle alone she mange to educate her children where one of her daughters graduated from the university, two daughters are to finished their Sudan schools certificate in Khartoum this month as well her son is studying his University in Cairo Egypt while the last born is in high school(boarding) In Uganda Kampala.

The federation of Business and professional women awarded achievements to women that are outstanding in doing small business like tea selling business, water tank business, catering services as well women involved in Big business like food stuff importers, food stuff suppliers, hardware shop and women like Governor Nyandeng Malek, Julia Aker Duany the first female Vice chancellor of Dr. John Garang University-Bor among others.

In the category of small business were Jackline Dimitri, Mary Deng Majok Bagat, Yar Kur Wel, Nyandeng
Gordon Ajawin, Ayam Mahmood Ajak, Amal, Bol Garang, Flora Samuel Philip, Aluel among others. While in the category of the Big business who were awards were Yar Manoh Majok, Rita Daniel Ali Mohammed, Anna Yom Gideon, Asunta Mario Wol, Samira Deng Chan for having employed nearly 150 women in agricultural farms in (Biem Nhom) Unity State.

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By Ayen Achol Deng – Juba
Roxy entered Bedouin elegantly with her Moresque stature. She had presence due to her strong personality, I would soon find out about this beautiful woman and why her aura was so alluring and inspiring. In an interview with Real Woman Magazine, 23 years old Diva who hails from Eastern Equatoria reveals that “Music makes me alive”

Recho-ma-pro-final-25“My real name is Annabelle Thompson and my middle name is “Rosci” so when I was looking for a stage name I changed it to Roxy Diva and I think diva speaks for itself”, she laughed.

Diva explained her music journey; how her music is perceived by ‘Junubin’ and how she got inspired”
“I have been singing since 2013 but I started writing my music since 2009, so that’s about two and a half years since I started singing and my music is currently being played in Sweden. I sing about love, being hurt and South Sudan. But that’s life you get hurt and you have to get back and still keep walking.

“My father passed away with Alzheimer and I was very close to him so these are some of the things that cause me pain. But he used to tell me a new day new blessing, don’t let yesterday failure ruin the beauty of today, because each day has its own promise of love, joy, happiness and forgiveness,” she explained.

“To be honest, singing about tradition, culture and politics in South Sudan is accepted but singing for
entertainment is misunderstood. Many may not like the contents of my songs,” she said.

I am a born and raised as a Catholic; my grandfather was a catechist during the colonial times, when the missionaries came to South Sudan. That was the precise moment when I fell in love with music. My father used to take us to church and I was in the crusaders team (the kids that used to sing and dance at church events) when I was young and I joined the choir when I grew up. So I would say my father and my church background inspired me to be a record artist,” she smiled.

Recho-ma-pro-final-27Diva explained to why her music has a mix and modern flavor to it: “I do music on the side though I’m busy struggling to be a person I want to be in the future. I don’t think I will ever stop singing. Music keeps me out of trouble; I generally don’t like gossip so I just express myself in my music; I practice a lot, I often go up to the mountain and sing. I like collaborating with LUAL D’AWOL. He is a very good rapper and lyricist. I’ve done a few tracks on his album and mine. I like Korean artists. Korean Pop, RNB, Rihanna, Selena Gomez. I performed in a police boxing match at Nyakuron. I became a professional writer through my love for music”, she narrated.

She briefly talked about her background: “my father really inspired me. He used to give me a lot of
advice in the form of stories, parables and examples. Through them he motivated me to study and become the person I am today.

My mother is an ophthalmologist so when I was three I spent my time with my father. My father puts me in school when I was three because he was a politician for the then government of Sudan; his name was
“Arkanjelo Thompson”. He was a commissioner for Eastern Equatoria from 2003 – 2005. He put me in school because he travelled a lot.

As one of his examples to motivate me to eat he would first ask: “Do you want to be tall like me?” Because I did not use to drink milk he would tell me “I am this tall because I drink a lot of milk.” Then I would eagerly drink my milk. He would then ask “do you see why my neck is so strong?” Then he would say “it’s because I eat a lot of bread” (asida)

He taught me “tell the truth and the truth will set you free.” In 2005 my father was arrested by the government of South Sudan (GOSS) after some time he was released, he was very sick and he died. By this time I was in high school. So I had to become independent. I babysat for two years till 2007 to support myself”, said Diva.

Besides, Diva is one of the few women who has discovered almost all her talent; “I am a Journalist by profession. I have a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. Although I worked as a waitress when I was attending university, I didn’t pay for all of my university. I was lucky enough that my professors believed in me. My professor John Ponty in Kenya took himself as my guarantee. So with my employment in South Sudan, I have now just paid my school fees. I was only left with $300”, She smiled broadly.

“My first Job was at JICA. I have also worked in modeling shows, I’ve been an MC and I worked as a private secretary at the office of the minister of culture, youth and sport while working as a part time reporter at Citizen TV. With the money I was paid in these places, I was able to pay my debt for my education.”

“And I am now currently for “Wadeng wings of hope” as a program Assistant. One of our programs has been to teach women from all over South Sudan some tailoring skills. We recently graduated a batch, whose final exam consisted of making school uniforms”

Diva is a mother of two children by adoption “I have adopted a boy who is now nineteen and he is attending the University of Juba and the girl is in Juba Day and she is 18 years. I give her clothes and hygiene items and I would also like to see her through university”, she smiled.

At her free time, she spends her time with orphans. “I went to the orphanage last week and the children were so excited to see me. They were missing the games and affection we shared ‘Children make me Happy.
I go over and take them fruits from time to time. I am also involving the children there in sports, I believe sports are important in order for children to have healthy competition; soon enough they will have a sports team. So these children are all my children”, claimed Diva.

Roxy Diva was selected as face of Zain October 2013. This was done through a very competitive vetting process of a selection over hundreds women from East Africa and South Sudan. Her face appears on a
billboard on the road to Nyakuron titled “I am a citizen of the world”.

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By Aleko Aguer

Meet Rebecca Akuol, a 20-year-old lady from Jonglei state, eagerly waiting to join the university this year with an interest to pursue Law to become a lawyer.

“I want to study law because there is a lot of injustice being perpetrated, especially against women and children in South Sudan,” she said, smiling, “I will be proud to defend them.”
Akuol listed her hobbies as reading novels ‘good love stories’, listening to music, watching movie series and modeling.

Akuol is the first born in a family of three girls. She was born in Kakuma Refugees Camp in Northern Kenya, taken to Panyidu at the early age of four and then to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and finally to Kampala, Uganda, where she completed her High School.

Recho-ma-pro-final-23Moving in all these places has shaped her to become more responsible and social.

“I have met different people, learnt different languages and I feel at home anywhere I go. I wish South
Sudanese youth could be as social as I am,” she
narrated.

Not only is Akuol social but has also learned many languages such as Amharic, Nuer, Shilluk, Arabic, and English in addition to Dinka, her mother tongue. She is fluent in all these different languages.
“Speaking these languages is a big advantage to me, because I can associate with people from these diverse communities”.

“I got inspired by my mother who managed to raise me and my siblings without a man’s support. I believe in strength of a woman because of her,”
Akuol explained.

She concluded with a message to young girls:
“lets us respect our parents because they are everything to us.”

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By Aleko Aguer

Eight years ago, Aguet Bior Ajang, a 28 years old lady from Kongor, Twic East County, and Chol Gatluak Deng, a 40 years old gentleman from Hol, Duk County, met and fall in love in Juba, South Sudan.

Recho-ma-pro-final-22Aguet and Chol are both SPLA soldiers and due to their busy schedules, they couldn’t make it to arrange their wedding in time. Aguet was later blessed with a daughter who is 6 years old now before they officially married. Still, the baby didn’t stop them from their dream wedding.

On the 28th of March, 2015, Aguet and Chol fulfilled their long dream by bringing together these two great communities of Kongor, Twic East County and Hol of Duk County all from Jonglei State into blissful
celebration of their wedding in Juba.

The day was marked with beautiful traditional songs of praises, local dances and ululations. It was a surprise for everyone to witness their wedding because it’s not common among the Dinka community to wed after everyone knows the pregnancy, let alone when the baby is as old as Amach, their beautiful daughter.

“Patience pays. We have been waiting for each other without losing hope knowing that a day like this will come, “said Aguet.

Recho-ma-pro-final-21There are some love characteristics that attracts everyone in their own ways in every relationship and for Aguet, she described her husband as a loving man. “He knows how to care for me. He’s honest, realistic, hardworking and handsome,” she smiled On a closing speech, Aguet’s father expressed his gratitude to his son-in-law.

“After Chol impregnated my daughter, people used to say, ‘your son-in-law has disrespected you’ then I
replied to them that no, he doesn’t know me before and we are not age-mate because I knew it that one day, I will give them to each other officially like today”, said Bior-warjok.

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By Mugume Rwaka – Juba

When Joseph Akech James takes his grey minibus to the University of Juba Auto Garage for service, he always
asks for the same mechanic. He says his preferred mechanic is meticulous, honest and trustworthy, and
stands out from the rest because of those traits.

But there’s another reason this particular mechanic stands out: Elizabeth Yacobo is a woman, and women
mechanics in South Sudan are as rare as hen’s teeth.

When she was a little girl, Yacobo’s dream was to become an engineer. But when she was 18 and had finished
school, her parents told her there was no money left to pay for higher education. They also said it was high
time that Yacobo should get married.

But Yacob did not want to give up on her dream just yet. Encouraged by her brother, she enrolled in an auto mechanics’ school in Yei in 2008. She graduated a year later, fully qualified to drive and work on motor
vehicles.

Recho-ma-pro-final-16First woman to apply Her diploma in hand, Yacobo went straight to the garage where she now works and asked for a job. She was hired on the spot — partly because she was the first woman applicant they had ever had.
Today, she works alongside several men and one other woman, Diane Andrew. Andrew is a single mother who
used to sell tea but made the leap into auto mechanics so that she could make more money. The garage pays
each of them 1,400 South Sudanese pounds a month. That’s enough for Yacobo to buy a plot of land, where she hopes to build a house, and for Andrew to look after her eight-year-old son.

Like other workingwomen around the world, Yacobo says her daily obligations do not start and stop at the
garage. “When I wake up in the morning, I first clean my compound and prepare tea for the children, and then I come to work. From there, I go to the market and then I go and make food for the children,” she says.
Yacobo’s mechanic work as also blessed her with a soul mate whom she is now married to. “My husband who is also working as a mechanic met me here at the garage and we fall in love and we are now married with one child,” she said

She met her husband, who is also a mechanic, at the garage. He understands his wife is carrying a double
workload, and tries to help out as much as he can at home. Other men chip in and watch Yacobo’s 18-monthold daughter who often accompanies her mother to work.

Exceptions to the rule

Yacobo and Andrew are exceptions in South Sudan. According to Women for Women International, a non-governmental organization that gives marginalized women in countries affected by conflict the tools and skills they need to be economically self-sufficient; the U.N. Children’s Fund, and international anti-poverty non-profit Oxfam, only 16 percent of South Sudanese women over the age of 15 can read and write, compared to 40 percent of men. In a country profile of South Sudan published in 2013, Oxfam says only 12 percent of women and 11 percent of men are “officially” employed. For female-headed households in South Sudan, the main source of livelihood is crop farming (71 percent), followed by wages and salaries (10 percent), the profile says.

Statistics from South Sudan’s Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Welfare show that nearly half of South Sudanese girls between the ages of 15 and 19 are married, many of them against their will. Girls as young as 12 are married off sometimes, in exchange for a dowry, the data show.

By Parach Mach, Juba
In 2011 when she emerged as first Miss South Sudan to win Miss World Africa in 62 years of Miss World History and won in a coveted Miss World Africa prize, also known as the “African Continental Queen of Beauty”, Atong de Mach is back on the scene. She
managed to create history by representing South
Sudan for the first time after the country shortly achieved independent in 2011. She is now a public relation officer with Japan International cooperation Agency (JICA), as well as model.
However, at first in 2011, not many people gave her a fair chance. Indeed, the residents of Juba kept
asking too many questions: “Who is she? Where is she coming from? What will she do after many have been crowned yet nothing tangible?” These were some of the questions that greeted her emergence as Miss World South Sudan.

girl2As event would later show, her choice was not
misplaced and indeed Atong DeMach had actualized many things, some of them were quiet ordinary but the fact that people had lived with their impossibility for decades meant that they were not ordinary.
Recently Atong DeMach took to Juba’s Streets with Japanese contingent forces leading the cleaning up campaign at Juba-Nabari road, a road, which was constructed through the grant donation of Japanese government and implemented by JICA
Atong said cleaning of environment could lure people senses into awareness. “Some among us may be
influenced to heed reason, to find a way to right
attitude toward environment,” she said.
According to DeMach if Juba residents fail to keep the city clean, the waste level will grow exponentially in the city over the next few years. Even if South
Sudanese invest heavily in waste management, it will be very difficult for the nation to maintain and keep pace with deteriorating condition. Therefore, citizens need innovative approaches for waste management options.
“It is very challenging in South Sudan, but some of the best and clean cities I had travelled look very nice and I always felt Juba should be in the same way, as somebody in the forefront of change; my contribution would be to educate people on the benefits of clean environment and its health hazards when left unchecked,” she stressed
De Mach said South Sudanese need to act now and seize this opportunity to seal a deal that is fair, that is ambitious and that is binding before it is too late,
saying people have the power to turn this around.
She further stressed that the duty of every citizens is to engage in state building in whatever ways by
enhancing collaboration, promote coordination and create partnerships, so that the county can secure clean environment for the present and future generations.
As a country, there is need to create the right
incentives to attract private investment into areas such as sanitations and waste management, waste recycling and water storage and conservation solutions. We do appreciate that if we were to fail and the waste in our city continues to grow faster than our maintenance, it is our environment, our society and our economy that will suffer. Proactive action is desirable and we have to take that action as stakeholders.
With the large number of supporters and well-wishers that followed as she made her way to the stardom in 2011, it is an evident that Atong DeMach, no doubt, would set a new beginning in the face of Juba city through hygiene.

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By Dengadong – Juba

Hon. Susan Wasuk Sokiri is equally the chairperson for Women Parliamentary Caucus, an office entrusted to deal with women affairs in the National Parliament. The office is working up efforts to create more empow- erment projects aiming at elevating burden of women hardship in the country.

“Initially we did not have a big budget from the nation budget but this year, the 2014-2015 fiscal year, the administration of the parliament allocated for us small funds to run our day to day activities in the parliament here”. She added that women parliamentary Caucus would make sure that women benefited from Community Development Funds’ projects (CDF) Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Real Woman Magazine, a couple of weeks ago, she said the women parliamentary caucus has written some project proposals to its partners requesting several women training centers to be established and one of its partner has so far responded positively and it had already gave them one resource center that will be used to train women on various skills.

However, in order to shed more light on what they are doing for women while in women leadership, the Real Woman Magazine caught up in an interview with Hon. Susan Wasuk, a women who labored so much advocating for years to see to it that women are empowered and their Rights are respected.

Welcome to the interview Hon. and thanks so much for taking your time to speak to us and we would like you to share your reflections as a woman in leadership.

Tell us briefly about your background and how did you managed to come to this position?

Recho-ma-pro-final-11I am Hon.Susan Wasuk Sokiri, 47 and Member of Parliament representing Warrap State here in the national parliament, I came to this parliament through SPLM Party list in 2010.

I started my primary School in Northern Sudan from 1972- 1977 and completed my junior school in 1973 and upon completion of my junior school, l moved to the then Southern Sudan where I joined Juba girl for my secondary school from 1980 to 1983.

Some years later, I left for Itang in Ethiopia with my husband   in 1984   and I quickly   joined the Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM/A) in 1985 and since then I had been serving women in difference capacities through women Association.

In 1991 after the fall of Mengistu Mariam, I got chance to go to Nairobi with my children. While in Nairobi, I managed to resume my studies and I started first with English course offered by British Council and I later on went to the college after I had struggled to put my children to school. With the support of women association founded by Paulino Riak, I went to the college and did community development studies and community health for three years. And after graduation I returned to South Sudan in 2000 and started working with one of the organization in Rumbek—that is when I started working with the women.

 

I worked in Rumbek from 2000 to 2004 then I was taken to Maban and I worked there until the Com- prehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. After the CPA I got a job with Pact Sudan program and I was taken to Wau and em- ployed as community development officer in charge

of Warrap and Wau. While in Wau I had also worked with women. In 2010 when people were preparing

for general elections, I was approached by the women in our area and they said that me and the rest of the women including the current governor of Warrap State that you   women must go to the parliament so that

you continued supporting us like what you have been doing during the war so I accepted the offer, I went and contested for the election and I managed to came

to the National Assembly as an MP starting from 2010 until I was made a chairperson of women parliamentary caucus in 2013 .

 

Is it because you did not prepare to become a politi- cian or you just accepted because women encourage you to do so?

 

Yes, I did not like to go to politics but I accepted simply because I did not wanted to let down the women.
So what are you doing now generally as a payback to women?

You know, pay them back cannot be seen directly but we are trying to offer trainings; we are training them to create awareness in areas where women should know their rights, we are also trying to make them participate in business, we are trying to train them business skills and on top of these, whatever we are doing here in the parliament we must make sure that women benefited, this project of CDF, we will make sure that women benefit from community development funds (CDFS) as soon the funds is released. During the elections campaign in 2010 I moved around all the villages and I have seen that women are really suffering.

And because of that, I came and wrote the proposal and it was successful, I provided 20 boreholes but I will do more of these when we are given the funds. These are some of the things we need to do to ensure that the hardships that women are facing in this country are uplift.

You came a long way, what does this life experience mean to you and your fellow women?

It is not easy especially when you left your home area, your parent and you went to the bush and bringing up the children without a father because when I left I did not know exactly where we are going, when we reached Itang I remembered when a Battalion known as Mor- Mor was sent to the frontline, the day they left Itang for frontline, we women were left alone with children, there were only few men at the center. So when we went to the river to fetch water in the morning the following day, we were thinking that there was something big that is going to happen. You see we came with our men from Sudan and they just left us suddenly but we managed to came together as women through creating program to keep us busy, for instance women association so that we managed to make ourselves busy so that we forget the hardship not also thinking about your father, mother, brothers and sisters that you have left behind. So it was a hard experience.

Do you have some projects that you are working on now for women?
As the women parliamentary caucus, initially in the caucus we do not have very big budget from the national budget but the good news is that we have a provision in constitution that allow us to work with National and international organizations, civil society, other women groups and we have already made two proposals requesting assistance from our partners. For example, the UN Women provided us with three offices and one resource center. Again, we have two embassies to equip these centers with more computers, Internet and books for training the women
Do you think the center will be accessible to all women?
Our constitution said, the women parliamentary caucus will be working within the ten states of South Sudan, we are working with state Assembly, it means that whatever, we are taking to the state Assembly it has to reach the women at the grass root.
What are the challenges facing you?
One of the challenges is lack of funds, we do not have money because sometimes we can have programs that we want to do but due to lack of money, it always
limited our work. The other challenge is the
insecurity because as we speak you cannot move freely in the other states.
Is there any instances in which men look you down?
Looking down by man is something obvious “it is just there,” it is us not to give them chance by saying let us sit down because man do not want us, man normally do not like to see women upgrading, it is our role as women to fight for our rights. However, thanks to late Dr. John Garang, he told us one day that women 25% did not came from nothing, it came from somewhere and he further warned us not sit back and said man will give our share instead he advised us to fight for our rights “Our contribution as women in the
liberation struggle that started from 1983 to 205 is what gave us this 25%”. It can be taken away if you are not careful despites the fact it is stipulated in the
constitution. If we cannot talk, ask and claim, it can just be taken. It is our role as women leaders to work hard and see to it that women are awoken up, we need to make awareness for the young women who are behind us so that they can grow knowing what is
happening.
How do you see yourself in the next five years
comparing with the years back?
Basically, it is better now if I can compare where I came from and with where I am now. However, in five years to come I want to see myself above and above and even in the top than where I am now. If I really sit down sometimes and compared where I came from up to this moment, I can see great difference.
What are your hobbies?
My hobbies among others are cooking, reading and making friends
Perhaps a word of advice to young South Sudanese women

My message to the women whether in the country or abroad is that let them not fear politic because politic is not only meant for men, I want to see women involving in taking part in the run of country affairs, they should stay focused and knowing all the avenues of information because
information is power. They should learn how to lobby; we used to think that politic is all about gossiping and all those, it is not it’s just about
participation in the run of the country affairs. We need more women
politician, we need young women to come up and participate, and
contribute to peaceful settlement of continued violence and process of
nation building.

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It’s not common in African cultures for children to teach their parents and they accept it but the 15-year old Achola Beatrice, a primary School pupil, has done the unthinkable.

She introduced Re-Usable Menstrual Pad (RUMPS) production to improve general hygiene of girls and mothers in Lobure village at the outskirts of Magwi town in Eastern Equatoria state.

Achola, who learnt the skills of RUMPS production from health clubs at Magwi central primary focused on improving the hygiene of the women and girls in her village.

“I do this to maintain our personal hygiene and also to keep the skills. And then, we also need to improve our village”

“I called my two friends Tugulu and Flora Ajango and started to teach them on how to make the re-usable pads” Achola narrates the beginning of her initiative to transform the village.

Recho-ma-pro-final-6Not until one day Achola came late from school and her mother asked her to explain the delays, then the girl told her mother that they were for training on RUMPS production.

“I told my mother we delayed for training on production of re-usable pads, and she then told me to bring the RUMPS material we use at school to teach her and that I should tell our trainers to visit home as well,” Achola says.

Ms. Achola’s mother, a widow, inspired by her daughter share such good initiative with other women in the village as well so that they maintain their hygiene since all have little incomes.

“My mother then told me that since most women in the village have little income, we could share the initiative of re-usable menstrual pads for them to keep their hygiene” Achola said.

As Achola’s mother implored her daughter to teach as many women and girls in the village as possible, Achola also tasked her to do the mobilization.

“I told my mother to mobilize her peers as I do to the young girl and the women were willing to acquire the skills of RUMPS production,” says the initiator of village RUMPs group.

Achola included 16-year-old Obina Sovan, who is also a member of the school health club to her team with the aim to sensitize boys and men on Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM).

“We don’t only look at RUMPs and general hygiene alone but also breaking the silence on menstruation and to eradicate teasing of girls by boys and that’s why we needed Obina” she says.

“My role is to sensitize boys to stop laughing at girls when in their monthly periods and fathers should offer help to their daughter who may need it during menstruation,” Obina says.

Achola’s RUMPs students in Lobure village, who admired her initiative, are not only housewives alone but also civil servants and University students.

Armed with a note book and a pen at hand, another lady who show keen interest in Achola’s RUMPs production lessons is Amal Jackline, a 2nd year student of Bugema University in Uganda

“Achola has taught us that the RUMPs comprises of three elements; the liner with 16 x11 cm, the Wing pad measures 11 x 8 cm and the Straight pad measuring 11x 6 cm” Amal explained.

“At the beginning of menstruation when the blood flow is high, one fixed the wing pad in the liner, attached to the pant with a button and wears it and when the blood reduce you fix straight pad to use,” Amal demonstrates to visitors what she has learnt from her young teacher.

Ms. Amal describes the young girl as creative initiator with a heart for a village she claims it has been abandoned and left out in much government development projects due to its distance from the town centre.

Members of the women group named “Reber Aye Teko” in Acholi language with its motto “Let it happen”, plans to improve their work to income generating activity. They are lobbying from well wishers to aid them with sewing machine and offer further training on tailoring to enable them upgrade the skills offered by Achola on MHM.

SNV-Netherland development Organisation contracted Hope for children and Women Foundation to implement project after a study indicated high girls’ dropout rate due to poor menstrual hygiene management.

Ms. Atim Veronica, a trainer with Hope for Children and Women Foundation, explains that Re-Usable Menstrual Pads are made out of special cotton cloth material or fleece materials.

She said some of the materials are available in the market and customers could be linked to suppliers for fleece materials, which is not common.

“The advantage of the RUMPs is that one can use and then wash it to be used again another day after drying it in hygienic environment,” Atim commented the re-usable menstrual pads.

It was upon the economic viability of the re-usable menstrual pads that the project anticipated it would improve school attendance and general hygiene of girls in poor rural areas.

Impressed with Achola’s initiative, the director for Hope for Children and Women Foundation, Mr. David Makumbi, did not expect mothers would embrace the project.

“Our objective was that the girls share the knowledge with other girls who might have dropped out of school and other from schools where the project is not implemented. I’m overwhelmed of involvement of the mothers,”

-he exclaimed.

Recho-ma-pro-final-8Achola’s initiative captivates SNV’s Eastern Equatoria state Menstrual Hygiene Management project officer, Ms. Pasquina Acidria who led a communication specialist of the organisation to Lobure village.

“I would like to express my gratitude to your daughter Achola Beatrice who has proved to be a real agent of change in this community. We never expected any pupil would think of transforming mothers,” she
expressed.

Ms. Acidria testifies that the community event was out of scope of the SNV project but Achola’s creativity had impressed and pulled the organizations’ officials to the village.

“This project was mainly focusing on schools that’s why we never engaged the communities in the rural areas but Achola has made us drive to her village to witness the wonders she has done to her people by sharing the knowledge on RUMPs production” she stressed.

“I must say that this is an impact we never expected. I congratulate Achola for transferring the knowledge from school to transform the women in this village,” Acidria remarked.

“In my impact table, I don’t even know where to fix this but I will create a column and row to indicate it,” the Menstrual Hygiene Management project officer explained.

She says the expected impacts of the project centred on increased enrolment and retention of girls at schools, improvement in their attendance and performance in classes but never extension of the skills to the
community.

“You can now see for yourselves how children can be powerful in education as in our homes? Most
interestingly, the skill you have acquired has been brought by your daughter, who learnt it from school” Acidria praised Achola before the mothers.

Though the SNV project didn’t target mothers at community levels, Acidria testifies that Lobure was lucky to have Achola to share the knowledge with the people in the village.

“You might have not gotten the opportunity to attend the training on Menstrual Hygiene Management directly from SNV, but at least through your daughter, you have acquired the skills” she says.

Acidria assures the group that though SNV does not provide hand-outs, the women will continuously be strengthened for their ambition to grow.

“It’s encouraging that you are thinking deep and broad to commercialise re-usable menstrual pads production. We do not provide hand-outs but we will continue to strengthen your capacity to achieve goals for the skills you have acquired,” Ms. Acidria says.

SNV’s global communications specialist, Nick Greenfield who was on photo shooting event of the projects, confesses that the organisation also implements similar project in four other countries but never had it a unique impact like in Lobure village.

“Menstrual Hygiene Management is implemented in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe and South Sudan, but around these countries, we had many great stories of change but
nowhere have we had a story quite like the one that is happening here,”
-Nike confessed.

Grateful for the mothers in Lobure to have opened an avenue for SNV to witness an unexpected benefit of its project, Nike suggested it’s better to share the story with the rest of the World.

I want to congratulate you and your daughter Beatrice for opening a way for us to your village. I had lots of stories from other schools but something very interesting to get the details,” he said.
We look forward to share your story with other people of south Sudan, other countries where we work in and people all over the World, the SNV communications specialist noted.

He expects Achola’s story and that of Lobure village women will be inspirational to others in the Globe for them to take action towards improving menstrual Hygiene Management.

“We hope your story will inspire other women, other villages, other countries and here in South Sudan to take the initiative to do what you have done, by taking the power in your hands to create something like this,” Nike commented Achola and Lobure women group.

Nick Greenfield, who works for SNV as communication specialist, reports on Water and Sanitation as well as “Girls in control” project, which focus on Menstrual Hygiene Management for schoolgirls.