What Does Peace Mean to Children?
South Sudan’s president and opposition leader signed a peace deal last year in August, but one year on, people continue to wait for the actual implementation. After violent clashes in Juba this July, children living in the capital’s protected civilian sites, recall what peace means to them.
Nyatap (8): “Peace is love”
Peace, to me, means love. My mother loves me very much. If all people love each other, there will be peace. My family had to flee from my village because there was fighting. Here in the camp, we have peace and I can play with my friends. I’m also going to school for the first time where I get to learn how to read and write. To me, this is peace. We live in a tent now and not in a house anymore, but it’s fine for me, because I have my family with me and a school I can attend.
David (14): “Peace is a good life”
Peace to me means having a good life and not lacking anything. Right now, I don’t have this. I arrived in Juba after a long journey from Unity in 2015. My brother and I came here together and we now run our own household. My parents are far away and I wish my family could be united again. Life is difficult.
Nagal (11): “Peace is trust, not hatred”
My sister and I fled Malakal when fighting broke out earlier this year, and the two of us now live here in Juba. My mother is still in my village, but we don’t know where my father is. I miss my parents and life here is hard. There are thousands of people here and I don’t know most of them. It was very different in my village. I knew everyone and I didn’t have to be scared. To me, peace is trust, not hatred. In South Sudan, many people don’t trust each other and that can lead to hatred. I wish we could have more trust and more peace.
Baping (8): “Peace is safety”
I came to live at the protection of civilian site two years ago when it wasn’t possible to live in my village any longer. We were woken up by fighting one night and had to run away. We left everything behind. I don’t remember much of it anymore and don’t want to think about it. We are safe here, and to me, peace means safety. I feel safe now, but sometimes I’m scared that new fighting will break out again.
Nhial (10): “Peace is staying in my village”
I miss my home. Because of the fighting, all the schools in my village have been closed and I came here to attend classes. I like that I can go to school, but I wish I could be with my parents. Many people have been killed in my home and I am scared because my family is still there. I’m so far away now. I don’t hear from my old friends anymore and rarely speak to my family. I have a good life here. But still I hope the fighting would stop, so that we could have a school in my village and I could return home.
The United Nations estimates more than 2.3 million people have been forced to flee their homes since the conflict began. More than half of those affected are children. We are working to bring hope to children.