Over 200 women and girls from the Bor Protection of Civilians site (PoC) celebrated their graduation from a six-month vocational training programme focused on boosting economic capacity as well as enabling those whose livelihoods were disrupted by conflict and insecurity to recover and rebuild their lives.
The training was conducted by Support for Peace and Education Development Programme (SPEDP), supported by UNDP’s Access to Justice and Rule of Law project, with funding from Germany. The graduation ceremony was attended by over 1000 people from the PoC and surrounding community, including representatives from UNDP, UNMISS, UNHCR, ACTED, and ALARM.
A total of 221 women dedicated their time to learning vocational skills in tailoring, basic computer applications, bed sheet design, bakery, masonry and carpentry.
“I have learned new sewing tips and techniques, and I have been encouraged to continue practicing so I can get better at it,” said Nyakum Malual, a tailoring trainee. “I have also gained trade secrets that will make me successful, like how to sell and identify profit and loss of my business. At first I did not understand the mathematics but I am now able to do correct calculations in measurements and business.”
An additional group of 200 women were trained in business development skills and received start-up capital worth 1.5 million South Sudanese Pounds to embark on sustainable business activities. Among this cohort, Nyawech Tong, who is blind, launched a charcoal business with her start-up capital, and reports her business is thriving as she continues selling in the PoC.
"For every journey there is a step and today’s ceremony is the first step of your long journey,” said PoC Chairman Mr. John Maliah, who applauded SPEDP and UNDP for supporting the PoC community with livelihood skills. He congratulated the graduates and instructors and urged the graduates to further deepen their newly acquired knowledge and skills through practical endeavors.
Speaking as a representative of the graduates, Ms. Elizabeth Joseph, a computer trainee, thanked SPEDP and UNDP for remembering the women of Bor PoC as part of the South Sudanese in need of support and empowerment. She assured the audience that the graduates fully believed that they will be able to create new opportunities for themselves as they continue to improve their trades and skills.
"I had always wanted to start a business and to do a computer course but it has been difficult to do so," said Nyachan Gai Tuar, one of the fellow graduates. She thanked SPEDP and UNDP for the project which she says will improve the lives of beneficiaries and their household members.
Ms. Nyatuak Pakur, a graduate in masonry, said she is proud to have defied a gender stereotype and looks forward to advocating for women’s participation in the male dominated trade of masonry. She said she was glad that she will compete with men in the construction industry.
The graduation ceremony was a festive affair, made colourful by cultural dances, a showcase of various products by made by the graduates, and a gift presentation.