Intercultural dialogues – Building a Shared South Sudan Identity

Cultures are like underground rivers that run through our lives and relationships, giving us messages that shape our perceptions, attributions, judgments and ideas of self and the other.” ~ UNESCO (2018). Peace and Reconciliation: How Culture Makes the Difference by UNESCO – April 2013; High-level Discussion.

The intercultural dialogue was a project activity of Young-adult Empowerment Initiative in partnership with Network of South Sudanese Civil Society organizations in Uganda and supported by Konrad Adenauer Stiftung. It was implemented in Bidi Bidi Settlement in Uganda, one of presumably the largest refugee settlement in Africa host about 1 million refugees majority of whom are South Sudanese. The project was implemented in the first week of May 2019.

Focus of the dialogue: The focus of the project was to bring different South Sudanese communities together. The communities targeted among others include: Acholi of South Sudan, Azande, Bari of South Sudan, Dinka, Nuer, Murle, Shilluk, Kakwa of South Sudan and South Sudanese politicians both from the oppositions and the government side. These communities were accorded chances to perform their cultures and after the performance explain to the audience how their cultures have contributed towards peaceful co-existence in their localities and how they should use their local understanding to disseminate and promote everlasting peace in South Sudan. Thus, the event was an opportunity for the dissemination of the R-ARCSS, 2018.

Three (3) activities were conducted which include; a) workshop to disseminate the contents of ARCSS (Revitalized Agreement) which targeted refugee leaders and was attended by 30 participants which include traditional leaders, women representatives, faith based groups, youth and members of the host communities. b) The second activity being intercultural public panel of discussion on the importance of embracing cultural diversity and the role of cultural institutions in peaceful co-existence of the South Sudanese with 90 audience in attendance and c) then intercultural performances among different cultural groups from South Sudan. John Lasu, a cluster leader strongly supported the idea of using community leaders to spearhead peace through Inter-Cultural Dialogue and Cultural Performance and believes that giving the community the chance to participate in identifying gaps can be done to help the community leaders who are close to everyday happenings. Majority of participants were women and youth.

Challenges and recommendations: We had learned that, for our field coordinator to reach all the 14 villages and 4 clusters of zone one , we either need to have a motor bike or hire one for time period when it comes to mobilize for the project. Our project was faced by the challenge of bureaucratic process of clearing with authority to allow us implement the project, constrained budget and cultural barriers.

We recommend more activities to be carried out in the future especially in areas of peacebuilding and women empowerment and intercultural dialogues among the South Sudanese refugee communities in Bidi Bidi settlement, Uganda. We profoundly thanks Konrad and Network of South Sudanese Civil Society Organization in Uganda for the support.

Compiled by: Yanga Richard, YEI Bidi Bidi Field Coordinator

Youth Innovation Seminar: preparing youth & women for local & global opportunities


i) to build youth capacities ii) to share information on the existing local global opportunities
and iii) to establish partnership, synergy and network among the youth.


i) Attended by 69, the objectives of the seminar were properly met and achieved as expected, ii) the participants got very much moved to start putting into practice the ideas that were discussed in the seminar and requesting for more of such, iii) It leads to more calls to organize seminars and workshops from within and outside the Bugema University Communities, iv) The attendants are requesting for the possibilities of YEi to extend their programs around the University for further mentor-ship and training e.g. Mr. Abel immediately requested for the organization to extend mentor-ship and capacity sessions to Glorious Nursery and Primary school through invitation.
As a result, also based on the information that got circulated, there is concerned group of youth in Lira led by Agea Jimmy at Lira Technical Institute that are willing to hold the seminar and invite the facilitators from YEi to go and help facilitate the workshop. Effective communication between our facilitators, members of our staff and the participants has been very much improved.

However, we could not ignore the constructive concerns from a few participants who suggested areas to work and improve on, especially in materials delivery and time management. It’s a great opportunity of learning for improvement for us.

Future Prospects:

There is high need to conduct a similar seminar at Glorious Nursery and Primary school.
Bugema University Mbale Campus through the student leadership’s request. Lira Technical Institute has also requested for a seminar possibly in January 2019.


i) YEi should continue to do more capacity building activities towards the areas of identified needs especially on the areas of agribusiness, vocational services & ICT skill as discussed and urged strongly the by participants

ii) Build more qualitative expansion in terms of facilitators in the different fields. The organization should do more on Sustainability and maintenance of its skilled personnel as it widens representation across Uganda and beyond.


Based on the program, objectives, the impact and the future prospects, it’s an evidenced fact that the participants utilized the seminar and benefited to their expectation. Because of the good work done by our Students’ coordinators Ediau David and Choolwe Luya at Bugema University. This report recommends that YEi and TCF should continue to organize more of this program as part of youth, women empowerment and community transformation as envisaged in YEi’s mission statement.

Meeting Ger Duany, UNHCR Regional Goodwill Ambassador for the East and Horn of Africa

Upon my arrival at my final destination, New Delhi, my big brother who at the same time is one of my mentors that inspired me so much through examples of life experiences Ger Duany, a UNHCR Regional Good Will Ambassador for Eastern and Horn of Africa, had handed to me a well selected text book as a surprise gift. ~ writes Gatwal A. Gatkuoth YEI Executive Director

We touched basis on a lot of things we both cherished, especially the common and share values in corridors of serving humanity through amplifying the voices of the voiceless (refugees). Ger, at his individual capacity and as Actor, Model and UNHCR Good will Ambassador is strongly compassionate about promoting oneness and embracing diversity for a better world in which humanity is respected and celebrated.

We can’t help to talk about the “Good Lie” one of his Hollywood Movies that Emmanuel Jal and others South Sudanese Lost Boys featured (starred). This conversation with Ger highlighted key interventions both his office and YEI should jointly start to work on.

In his role as a Goodwill Ambassador, Ger has elected to focus on youth and education, saying “given a chance, refugee kids excel. They are not powerless, they don’t need pity. They can be citizens of any country, respectfully and constructively contributing to humanity’s goals.”

Press: Improve Refugees-Host communities access to quality Education

Oct 14, 2017 Press: Improve Refugees-Host communities access to quality Education

A total of about 326,149 students will be writing their Ordinary Level of Secondary School National Exams for Uganda’s Certificate of Education –UCE on Oct 16, 2017. According to Uganda National Examination Board, UNEB Secretary Mr.Nokrach Odongo 49% of this number is girls.
The Young adult Empowerment Initiative (YEI) applauds Uganda’s ministry of Education for the efforts to strike at closing the gap in education equality between the girl and the boy child.
YEI would therefore like to call for urgent and immediate considerations on the following:

1. Implores the Government of Uganda through the Office of the Prime, Refugee Department and Ministry of Education in collaboration with UN Education Agencies to extend the same quality of education to the refugees and their host communities.

2. Argues the above educational institutions to make efforts to improving access to quality education for both the refugees and their host communities by availing adequate school facilities. The right to equitable quality and decent education for all is clearly enshrined and layout in Sustainable Development Goal –SDG No. 4.

3. Argues to give keen attention to Educational issues that are gender specific – that is to say, girl child should be incentivized to bait them for schools.

4. Implores the refugees and their host communities to break the cultures that do not allow girl child to attend schools and encourage the elderly to take up opportunity windows on Functional adult literacy.

Young adult Empowerment Initiative (YEI) is a nonprofit youth-led organization that works with refugee and their host communities in Uganda and the grassroots communities in South Sudan.

Our areas of focus include: Peace building and human right advocacy, Agriculture and Food Security, Education and Research and Reproductive Health and Health Education.

Uganda hosts over 1.2 million refugees from the region. 70% of them are South Sudanese who were forced to leave their homes in S. Sudan for refuge and safety in Uganda, following 2013 political strife.

(Photo credit: File/TheGuardian:) Girls sit amid the ruins of a primary school burned down in fighting at the Malakal protection of civilians site in South Sudan. Photograph: George/Unicef