News from Rumbek
Love for my sisters, my elders and my community – the Loreto Peace Club
This term, the Loreto Peace Club (LPC) carried out its usual activities which are a way of finding peace and stability from the grassroots. In these activities, students apply several skills that they learn in the peace club weekly study sessions, to be responsible over the environment and care for the people who live in it.
The LPC chairperson, Antoneta Aciek quotes,
“Charity work and peace discussions helps us build peace. As we work together we learn to corporate with each other. We also bring a smile to people’s face when we discuss with them and help them find solutions to their problems. This promotes cohesion and happiness which are key factors to creating sustainable peace.”
On 12th October 2019, LPC visited Rumbek referral hospital for their first time. Upon arrival and a warm welcome by the hospital administration, the students divided into three groups to clean three major wards in the hospital; children’s ward, surgical ward and maternity ward. With supervision of the staff they removed cobwebs, dusted, swept and mopped within two hours, leaving patients with a cleaner place to stay.
After cleaning, the members shared with patients some buns they baked from school, listening to their experiences and encouraging them and getting advice too. One of the LPC students, Monicah Yot explains, “We learn to share the little we have with the vulnerable people. When I gave soap to one of the nursing women, she was grateful because she’ll have more soap to clean clothes. She was still in pain as she had not fully recovered and I encouraged her to keep strong. She said ‘thanks my daughter’ as she looked at me with a sigh of relief. The women also encouraged us to study hard for a better future.’
LPC students also had a great time sharing with their little sisters in their usual big sister little sister termly event held between 10th and 12th November 2019. They shared with 12 girls of upper primary who are residing in the Loreto compound. One of them, Martha Amer is in her 6th year of study in primary and is currently under a forced marriage threat. On Saturday morning, the girls spent an hour in one to one sharing, discussing challenges that affect them and how they are coping in boarding life.
In sharing her story, Martha Amer talks of a home without a mother. Amer described how she was looking after her siblings since her mother left, a factor that could make her get stressed in school because of many responsibilities at home.
She reports how Loreto has helped her in surviving the forced marriage threat, emphasizing that boarding life has provided her safety and basic needs. In school, she is provided with some food and money for her siblings every month and coming to boarding school has not made her siblings feel abandoned by her absence.
Mary Laat and Bakhita Athiei, students in second and third year in secondary, who were victims of marriage threats before encouraged Amer to remain focused since Loreto administration highly supports students facing such incidences. In this sharing, girls understand that other people face similar experiences and victory stories give them hope. They encouraged each other to behave well and be tough, factors which will not give a loophole to parents to force them into marriage.
Martha Amer explains, “I am privileged to take part in this event. We have been interacting with secondary students but this is a special moment our elder sisters have dedicated to listen to us. This is my first time and I’ve really learnt a lot. In this platform I have shared life experiences further and got encouraged by my sisters. Even if I am undergoing challenges of forced marriage threat I feel safe here and my sisters are mirrors to a great tomorrow since they are my role models. One day I will be in secondary school like them and I will be encouraging others who are going through the same challenge.”
The LPC students had listening circles with the community members on 18th November 2019. In the afternoon, about 70 community members gathered under a large neem tree with the LPC students. They discussed on conflicts and members listed some of the causes of conflict as possession of guns, cattle raids and other forms of theft, alcoholism and miscommunication.
In their discussions, community members suggested that having women leaders and educating more women can be a major factor that can reduce conflicts and bring a more peaceful nation. This was a great call to the girls to study hard in school and be women who will do much in time to come, a great value of Mary Ward lived by Loreto students.
Collectively, LPC activities are aimed at peace building and trauma healing to the students’ body and the Rumbek community.