South Sudanese young people promote cohesion

By Awan Achiek

JUBA-South Sudanese young people have began using debate as a means to to promote peace and harness their career path potentials.

Recently, Plan International –South Sudan, an organization that advocates for the rights of children organized a one-day young people parliament with the aim of championing peace and unity.

The debate was conducted in Nimule last Wednesday under the theme “create a safe space that provides children and young people the opportunity to voice their ideas, thoughts and feelings toward nation building.”

The Right Honorable speaker for the children and young peoples’s parliament, Oyella Eunice said the initiative which was established three years ago has ushered children a forum to discuss issues that matter to them.

  “The major objective for Children and Young people’s Parliament is to create safer space for children and young people to come together to discuss issues that concern them in the community,” Eunice told Juba Echo in an interview.

Speaking during the launching of the fourth parliamentary sitting in Nimule, Eunice called on the government to ensure children have access to sustainable policies that address issues hindering their growth, adding that they are the country’s future human resource.

 “We are aware as children and young people on our rights and how we should advocate for our rights and this is the reason we conduct parliamentary sessions to discuss as children and young people on matters that concern us in our communities. When we come together, we raise issues affecting our communities,” she said.

Keji Monica Gabriel, Deputy Speaker for Children and Young People’s Parliament said the platform is helping young people become proactive and to campaign for recognition of children’s voice.

 “We are the voice to the voiceless. We are helping our fellow kids who don’t have the platform of raising their voices and we are engaging boys to know their rights,” Monica said.

“We really thank Plan International because they have really helped us a lot. With help from Plan, we are able to see many places where we have never been to before,” she added.

“We usually go for talk shows and we talk about things happening in our communities and issues of young people getting addicted to drugs and others joining bad groups who attack people at night and we talk about child marriage, force marriage and we go to the community for awareness,” said Keji.

 John Garang, Plan International Program implementation Manager encouraged young parliamentarian to keep up the momentum and use the engagement to discuss on issues that matters to them and that of their country.

 “I am very much impressed by the way this young parliament has been presenting the issues that are affecting the country. We need to keep that platform and momentum to challenge the government because it is your country and your responsibility and your turn,” Garang said.

“You know we will not shy away by the fact that if these small children are given platform, they are going to challenge us, they have already challenged status quo and there is nothing that can be done about it,”  he said.

Stella Drate, who represents Plan International Country Director, said Plan International is working to create safe and secure spaces for children to have their voices heard.

“There are a lot of things that need to be done and there are opportunities in Plan International where we can explore and make sure that children move from darkness to another level to have their voices heard,” Drate said.

She advised parents to keep their children safe from abuse and harm.

“Lets us challenge ourselves because sometimes we are perpetrators to our children and we use the power that we have to perpetuate our children especially the young girls.”

Joseph Opio, Eastern Equatoria State Minister of Parliamentary Affairs promised to champion this initiative in the national parliament.

“I am happy and believe if Children and Young People’s Parliament is not going to be number one platform to champion peace then it will be number two and I believe that Eastern Equatoria is going to champion this initiative in national parliament,” Opio said.

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