South Sudan

Emergency Smile Mission to Mangateen Camp in South Sudan

South Sudan is the world’s youngest country, having gained their independence only a decade ago. However, most of the years since then have been marked by internal conflict and human rights violations, forcing the displacement of more than four million people, either within the country or across the border.

The Mangateen camp, located in the northwest outskirts of Juba, the country’s capital, hosts around 14 thousand internally displaced people who found refuge after the ongoing conflicts in the country.

The diverse team of inclusion facilitators from Light for the World, a very inspiring, passionate, and curious group of people, make sure that all the activities in the camp are inclusive for the whole community including those with special needs. Therefore, our team’s focus for this mission was also mainly working with children and people with disabilities.

Besides the rising temperatures, which was one of the biggest challenges for them, the mission concluded successfully reaching thousands of people.

Workshops for children with disabilities and their carers

As it was school break, the clown team had the possibility to work in the area that is normally dedicated for the classes. They were lucky to have this space to host several Circus Smile workshops for children with disabilities living in the camp as well as their mothers and field workers.

As the clown team was in the same place for three weeks, they managed to really establish an intensive contact and exchange with the Disability Inclusion Facilitators (DIF) from Light for the world, the kids and their mothers. Everyone was able to learn more about how to work inclusively and get the space to develop the skills that they have learned. As the group was a mix of all ages, and also very different disabilities, it felt right to take the work slower and allow more time for each exercise.

At the end of the three weeks, the children were able to make a presentation in front of over 200 people. Families and field workers where there to watch the children with disabilities, and other kids from the camp, dance with scarfs and ribbons, and do acrobatics. The children were incredibly talented, and it was very moving to see the entire community cheering them up.  

Parades with home visits

During this mission, with the help of the Light for the World facilitators, the team visited families with children with severe disabilities who could not join the clowns’ activities otherwise.

A big, laughing, singing crowd moved through the camp stopping at every house. Two clowns stayed with the group while the other two went in doing the special home visits. Some beautiful moments happened when the crowd really gave the space for the special children. They became silent and calm. The children with disabilities were the focus for some minutes. They got time and attention from the clowns and brought them into the spotlight, while the community hold the space for them. The clowns played some gentle music and juggled scarfs. Five minutes of beautiful, peaceful, supportive silence. Until the crowd became loud again and marched together to visit the next family. It was a wonderful inclusive experience for everyone involved.

Humour workshops for Boruboru National Association of South Sudan

Boruboru is a South Sudanese played sport, developed for empowerment, peace building, trauma healing and community mobilization; incredibly important for a young country like South Sudan that suffers from long term internal conflicts.

Boruboru was revived in 2015 and today has its own National Association with 40 residential neighbourhoods and 23 school teams. The game has been officially recognized by the government of South Sudan, who considers it as one of their national sports. Over 2900 girls and women now enjoy playing Boruboru and use their newly acquired skills. Boruboru players do not just receive sports training, they are also trained in other life skills such as leadership, tolerance, team building and public speaking.

We cooperated with the Boruboru National Association to better understand young culture in Juba and find links between laughter, inclusion, disability, sport and youth empowerment.

During the three weeks mission, we provided humour relief workshops for many young players. It was a celebration of teamwork and recognizing the importance of failure for development.

This mission was co-financed by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Arts, Culture, the Civil Service and Sport