In a crucial year for southern Sudan, our partner the Mundri Relief and Development Association (MRDA) is helping build a more peaceful future.
Since 2005’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement brought an end to more than 20 years of civil war, a fragile peace has been kept in southern Sudan.
But with the agreement now in its final year, the country is fast approaching a crossroads.
Against this uncertain backdrop, MRDA is strengthening communities, building and equipping classrooms and improving the quality of education through teacher training so children have the opportunity to go to school.
The war claimed more than 2 million lives, left a further 4 million displaced and destroyed vital infrastructure including schools and clinics.
And even since the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed, violence has continued, while access to essential services remains poor across the region.
Fewer than three in every 50 children finish primary school. Girls growing up in southern Sudan have more chance of dying in childbirth than of completing their education.
When people’s focus is on finding their next meal and ensuring their children go to school, they have little energy to invest in long-term processes that are vital steps towards building a lasting peace.
Work like that carried out by MRDA has never felt so urgent.
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Alice Idea Justin is a trainee at MRDA’s Kotobi Institute. She believes this work is essential if southern Sudan is to build a peaceful future.
‘Education is very important for southern Sudan – for both boys and girls – because the war went on for a long time and there was much destruction,’ she says.
In the last year MRDA has built seven new classrooms in four community primary schools, trained 52 teachers and distributed textbooks to 1,000 pupils across 16 schools with funding provided through Christian Aid.
For MRDA, children are one of Sudan’s best hopes. As Justin says, ‘They need to join hands for the development of the country.’
Peace in south Sudan remains fragile and urgent action is needed in this critical year if Alice’s pupils are to grow up without fear of a return to war.
On Saturday, 9 January, one year ahead of the end of the peace agreement, Sudanese communities and activists around the world joined together to call on world leaders to promote lasting peace in Sudan.
To do this, they drummed out a beat for peace. Watch the video above, and find out more at the Sudan365 website.
Christian Aid has joined forces with church bodies and other agencies including Amnesty International and the International Rescue Committee in calling for the UK to do its part in building peace in Sudan.
Human rights NGO, the Aegis Trust, has also set up an online action so people can add their voice.
Peace in Sudan Email your MP
More on Christian Aid and MRDA's work in Sudan
MRDA Official site
Sudan What Christian Aid does
Darfur appeal You can help
Image gallery Sudan: the art of reconciliation
Slideshow Using sport to build bridges