I CAN South Sudan is a Refugee led Community-Based Organization (CBO) operating in Bidibidi Refugee Settlement Zone 1 with the aims to engage unaccompanied refugee children in social and musical activities. The aim is in three-folds: to give them meaning, purpose and hope in their lives, to develop their skills and talents for the future, and to provide them with a voice to express their trauma and their desire for peace.
Created in 2017 by refugee youth trainers and teachers Stephen Wandu Bimo, Seme Ludanga and Kyobutungi Angela a Ugandan by nationality who have compassion to support refugees, I CAN initially received a Good Will support of Euro 5,000 from Misereor to help 20 children over 6 months. The Charity's program includes musical coaching with the emphasis on group work, building individual confidence and creating links of friendship between the children who come from both sides of the tribal conflict in South Sudan. Children are also taken on 'treat' outings together to put smile on their faces and give them positive experiences outside of the refugee camp
The musical program focuses in part on the preservation of South Sudanese stories, songs, and musical traditions. As refugees in Uganda, the children's schooling teaches them songs and poetry of a different country. While this is potentially a very enriching experience, it is also important that they do not lose contact with the stories and poetry in their own South Sudanese traditions. This is not just about cultural preservation but also about comfort: Storytelling is an important part of South Sudanese culture and children sing songs as they play and gather in the evening to tell stories (known as 'Pature' in Zande culture). Many of these have been passed down for generations. I CAN South Sudan aim to preserve these traditions in an inclusive way so that the children are taught the practices and stories of variety of tribes as peace building efforts
Geographical Location and Population of the area
Bidibidi a refugee settlement in Northwest Uganda in Yumbe, a district in the West Nile subregion opened in August 2016 and by December of the same year was closed to new arrivals with an estimated population of 285,000 refugees Bidibidi was at the time, described as the largest refugee settlement site in the world. Bidibidi was founded with the gazetting of 250 square kilometers of communal land by the host community.
Bidibidi is composed of five Zones and each of these zones is divided into clusters which further divided into individual villages
Political and situation of the Unaccompanied Children
The escalation of conflict in South Sudan in 2016 that included increased mobilization of youth into rebellion, increased deployment of SPLA soldiers, deployment of Mathiang Anyoor a paramilitary ethnic group, spiraling cycle of retaliation in rural areas, insecurity in urban areas, fear that the same insecurity would spread, relatives missing, caught up in firefight, getting targeted by government or SPLA-IO, indiscriminate killings, food insecurity and a decrease in social services, closure of schools and clinics plus illegal detentions made many to flee the equatorial region for safety in Uganda
Among these refugees are over 10,500 children. Many of them have traveled with strangers or relatives who are not their parents to the Bidibidi and Imvepi refugee settlement in northern Uganda. While some have been placed into foster care and others have been reunited with families, many remain unaccompanied and vulnerable minors. (UNHCR)
To make matters worse, rations of food have recently been reduced in these refugee camps, leaving many of these children vulnerable to crime, peer pressure and exploitation. Traumatized by war, plight and the loss of family and without a strong support network, these children need help and support.
While the personal suffering of these children takes priority, the dispersal of people from South Sudan also represent a potential cultural loss.
It is upon this background that motivated us to start I CAN South Sudan. We have identified the unaccompanied children with the help of the refugee community in Bidibidi and engaged 20 children from different tribes of South Sudan in our program since 2017 and we hope to keep adding more so that we can reach thousands more who are in need
People, Economic bases, Social and Culture of Yumbe
In 2014, Yumbe recorded Ugandan population was roughly 485,000. Yumbe is the historical land of the Aringa people, the majority of whom are subsistence farmers and followers of Islam. Yumbe is one of the poorest districts in Uganda. Schools and centers are severely under-resourced and underperforming, infrastructure is underdeveloped and economic opportunities lag behind the rest of the nation. Aringa's history of conflict, poverty and Islamic faith provide a backdrop of perceived and actual marginalization of the Aringa inside Uganda. Unlike other communities across the border in South Sudan; however, many Aringa are aware of distant kinship with groups in South Sudan. Alan Boswell (2018) The Political Economic and Conflict Dynamic in Uganda's Bidibidi Refugee Settlement
I CAN has three main aims: To inculcate a sense of meaning, purpose, and hope in the lives of musically talented unaccompanied refugee children living in refugee settlements in Northern Uganda. To develop musical and performance skills and talents in these children that will ultimately allow them to pursue a career in these areas of the creative arts, including the preservation of the distinctive musical culture of South Sudan. To provide unaccompanied refugee children with a voice to express their trauma and their desire for peace.
Our goal is to revive the lost hope, confidence and ambition of these unaccompanied refugee children and give them voice to advocate for their rights in South Sudan
Motto: Yes We can!