The reputation of the YMCA/YWCA worldwide is well known. In many parts of Africa, its programming has made key differences in the lives of many young people. But after 20 years of Africa’s most brutal civil war, recreational and development programs seemed a long way off for south Sudan’s youth.
All that changed in 2003, when CASS opted to fund the first YMCA/YWCA programming in south Sudan. Peter Ring, a lifelong YMCA member, also happened to be a southern Sudanese leader dedicated to the development of his country’s young people. After years of persistent effort, he succeeded in getting the approval of both the African and worldwide YMCA/YWCA to agree to an organization in the troubled south. Peter’s problem then became funding, which is where CASS came in.
Peter has established branches of the YMCA/YWCA in Twic County, and now the “Y” is being expanded to the Aweil East region, where CASS is building primary schools and developing programs for women and former child soldiers. While the Twic efforts focused mostly on the men’s organization, those in Aweil East will revolve primarily around programming for girls.
The significance of all this shouldn’t be underestimated. For the first time in a generation, the young people of south Sudan finally have activities that will permit them to interact, compete, dialogue and ultimately heal their land in the years to come. Typical programming includes recreational activities, youth leadership and citizenship courses.
This development of the YMCA/YWCA in south Sudan will merely be the tip of the iceberg. As peace floods through the region and communities become more stable once more, activities for youth will prove hugely popular after so many years of conflict.
With six branches already up and running, CASS will seek to expand YMCA/YWCA programming throughout more extended regions of the south. Funding will be sent for sports equipment, educational materials, leadership training courses and physical compounds to be constructed as centres for YMCA/YWCA development.