Until recently, Jacklin Taban Mathew, a 15-year-old school dropout from Nabanga, a village in Tambura, Western Equatoria, had no hope or future prospects. She became pregnant in her teens and education wasn’t an option for her anymore.
Recently, Jackline’s fortunes took a 360-degree turn, thanks to a newly constructed primary school and health facility in her vicinity funded by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
“I wasn’t the only case of teenage pregnancy at my school; there were many others like me, and we all had to leave our lessons abruptly,” she reminisced.
“But today, I have hope that I can continue my education, thanks to this beautiful school. Importantly, my child will have access to healthcare.”
Community members joined Jacklin in jubilating during the handover ceremony of the school, not least because children who were displaced by surging conflict in Tambura in past years, now have the opportunity of continuing their lessons.
Among these joyful people is Angelo Davido, a youth leader, who joined construction workers every day to help build these two vital facilities, brick by brick.
“Our people have suffered tremendously, and they deserve all the services they need to rebuild their lives,” he stated. “I believe in leading by example so I joined adult education classes so I can inspire others and ensure everybody joins in to educate themselves,” he stated passionately.
For Justin Kpatabira, a parent residing in Nabanga, the government must chip in to help boost rule of law in the area and ensure girls as well as boys can be safe, secure and take full advantage of classroom learning by well-paid teachers.
“Building this school is the first step in the right direction,” she averred. “We hope that the government will support us in making sure this school continues to be a beacon of hope for future generations.”
For Matthew Mabenge, Commissioner of Tambura county, this school and healthcare facility is a perfect example of how the UN Peacekeeping mission’s Quick Impact Projects create a bridge between communities and the government in building a durable peace.
“We are appreciative of UNMISS and their support,” he stated.
This important project was built by local implementing partner, Rural Development Action Aid in just three short months and they also provided benches for students.
“These two facilities are aimed at encouraging the conflict-affected across Tambura to return to their homes and reintegrate with members of their community,” explained UNMISS Protection, Transition and Reintegration Officer Anthony Moudie.
Many people who were caught up in the crossfire of the Tambura conflict two years ago had fled to Nabanga in fear of their lives.
The violence in Tambura led to tens of thousands being killed or displaced and widespread destruction of critical facilities, such as churches, schools, healthcare centers.
The newly refurbished Nanzanga Primary school was originally established in 1986.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).