Impact Stories & Blogs
Our team share their insights and perspectives on the impact our program is having on youth in East and Central Africa.
Kuol Arou Kuol, South Sudan - Cohort 37
Kuol is a South Sudanese peacebuilder based in the refugee settlement in Northern Uganda. After the 2018 deadly conflict between the refugees and the host community, he founded the Shabab Peace and Environment Action Group (SPEAK) to bring together youth from both refugees and host to tackle their differences through a coordinated effort. The aspect of environment was made one of the main areas of focus because a lot of environmental factors led to the conflict. There was an increasing competition for natural resources that Kuol thought to solve by engaging youth from both sides to work on the development and preservation of natural resources to benefit both communities. The post conflict time was marked by a breakdown in interactions between the refugees and host communities. This gap would mean that the stereotypes would continue and it's a matter of time before another conflict breaks out. Through the Peace caravans program planned by Kuol and the team from SPEAK, the level of interactions and Peaceful co-existence has increased to the highest ever. There are no incidences of fighting between refugees and host, and the refugees among themselves.
This is an initiative being carried out by the Shabab Peace and Environment Action Group (SPEAK) where youth from one community move to another to carryout community work together with the youth on the other side. They youth especially in the context of refugees and host communities identifies vulnerable people from each community that they can help by: cleaning their compounds, build them shelter or cultivate their farms. This has promoted the spirit of oneness as the host communities through this project see refugees as part of them who are contributing to their wellbeing and the refugees also believe the same. This peace caravans have created a space where young people work together, share skills, share stories and find a way to co-exist.
The impact of SPEAK and the peace Caravans is that it has become a youth movement where youth who are always the group involved in conflict are the ones leading the process of peace and co-existence. There hasn't been a tension between the refugees and host Communities since SPEAK was initiated. I learned about YALI in our leadership network in which some members where YALI RLC Alumni. They would always talk about the impact of YALI and one would visibly see how their Leadership skills and actions had improved. What stood out for me at YALI is the diversity and the spirit of being together in action. I have met people in this space who have given a lot of weights to the work I do. In five years’, time, I hope to nurture younger people who can lead SPEAK beyond the refugee settlements. The aspect of passing the baton is special to me.
I made a network at YALI and I am grateful for the tireless support this network has given me. The SPEAK initiative was formed but couldn't do much before my experience at YALI like it is doing now. There has been an immense support from YALI RLC EA Alumni chapter of South Sudan. This is the growth that I would have missed had I not been made a part of YALI . One of the main challenges faced is the hesitance of authorities about what the youth can achieve through organization like SPEAK. It not been easy to convince the authorities with their bureaucratic processes and being ignorant about the impact we are making until lately when we were all over the radios for the unique and impactful peace caravans. The other missing pieces are the financial resources to be able to increase the impact of our work.
My advice to someone who would want to join YALI RLC EA is to obviously go for it. I have been trying to make sure that my team experience the YALI even if they are not made part of the program by sharing my YALI experience with them and connecting them with the network that I made at YALI.