UN Volunteer UMISS Public Information Officer Anna Adhikari (in red shirt) trains community volunteers with the South Sudan Trust Rehabilitation and Development Organization in Bentiu, Unity State to be social mobilizers. From the left (facing the camera): Peter Ruot and Regina Nyabiey (both SSTDO social mobilizers), Jacob Ruai (Public Information Assistant, UNMISS), and Rebecca Nyakoth and Regina Malual (SSTDO social mobilizers). Photo: Michael Lony Kuol, SSTDO/UNMISS 2013.

Volunteers vital for development, say NGO supporters in Bentiu, South Sudan

Community volunteers in Unity State, South Sudan, agreed that volunteerism is vital to development during a UNV training session on being social mobilizers. The sessions aim to enable local residents to better support NGOs in their area. 

Volunteerism was vital in efforts to develop South Sudan, workers with a Unity State organization said today during a meeting organized by UNMISS in the state capital Bentiu.

The volunteers or “social mobilizers” associated with the South Sudan Trust Rehabilitation and Development Organization (SSTDO) were attending a forum led by UNMISS Public Information Officer and UN Volunteer Anna Adhikhari (Poland).

“As a volunteer I’m getting access to trainings for the future,” said participant Michael Lony. “I will be able to support my community better and contribute to the development of my country.”

The South Sudan Trust Rehabilitation and Development Organization (SSTOD) is a local non-governmental organization (NGO) operating in the state through volunteers, who spread development messages and assist with community work. The NGO aims to provide the community spiritual, physical, environmental, economic and social assistance as well as help youth grow into complete and reliable citizens.

The organization runs several projects in the areas of health, education, environment, water and sanitation, food and agriculture.

“Social mobilizers help the organization by linking it with communities and spreading awareness about such issues as hygiene,” said SSTRDO Executive Director Joseph Ruach Gaey. “Some of our volunteers are going to be trained for the polio campaign in Bentiu and Rubkona, Panijyar and Leer counties.”

“What motivates me is to help the community by creating awareness on different topics that are good for them, such as prevention from diseases, hygiene or civic participation,” said another participant, Elizabeth Nyaniel.

“As a volunteer I get skills and knowledge that can be useful in the future for my family and community,” she added.

Ms. Adhikari told participants that the spirit to volunteer “starts at home”. 

“We don’t live alone. We live in communities,” she said. “As parents, we encourage our children by giving them the example that working for communal (benefit) is a right thing to do.”

Leading up to UN Day on 24 October, UNMISS and UN agencies in Bentiu held health education meetings with SSTDO and Youth Action against Illiteracy to assemble 20 local residents to be social mobilizers who would regularly assist the NGOs.  The mobilizers were trained by State Ministry of Health experts on prevention and treatment of malaria and diarrhea as well as the benefits of blood transfusions and immunization.

The trained participants then spoke about these four major health problems with patients awaiting treatment at the Care Clinic (run by CARE, the international NGO) in Rubkona and Bentiu Hospital. Most of the more than 200 patients in both clinics were expectant mothers and women with children.  Read more here.

Currently, there are about 400 UN Volunteers from around the world working with UNMISS in its role of supporting South Sudan in peace building and creating an environment that enables development.

Bentiu, South Sudan