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Updated On: Monday, December 11 2017

Normality Returning to South Sudan

Content by: South-South News

31 July 2017, New York, USA | South-South News — On a long and winding road in Malakal town, lined mostly with government offices, Eliza Wanykow Chan is opening her tea shop. It is 6 o’clock in the morning and town is just coming to life. In the market, women are spreading their wares and the smell of fresh bread and tea scones merge with the scent of the tea Eliza is brewing for her customers.

“Some people there say there are no people living in Malakal town,” she said, “I tell them that I standing in front of them am living in Malakal town. I say there is no problem there and people are living in the town. I tell anybody who left Malakal to go to the north (Sudan) or to the [IDP] camps or anywhere else, to return to Malakal because, in the long run, Malakal belongs to us all.”

Noah has been coming here for a year. Ben Margolis, the Grange Farm Manager, said, “We don’t have expectations of anyone. What we normally find is that people have skills to share… This is a space where in a really safe environment you can experiment, make mistakes and try things that you don’t have an opportunity to try.”

The tea culture in South Sudan is a mostly Arabic trend that is carried on through generations. People – mostly men – gather together over tea to discuss current affairs and community life. Malakal is the second largest town in South Sudan after the capital Juba. It is remembered for its vibrancy and as a melting pot of everything good about the country – the people, cultures, and fresh fish from the Nile, which crosses through the town.

For years though, Malakal has borne the brunt of the civil war. However, things are looking up as many people like Eliza are returning to live, work and rebuild their lives. Eliza said, “In the past, the woman’s place was at home. She did not know what was happening around her. Now, we have benefited a lot from the training organized by UNMISS for women and we now participate. This has encouraged me today to talk on radio or television as I am doing right now. We could not have imagined that one could have talked about such issues and this is something we, and especially I, have benefited much from.”

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan – UNMISS - has increased its activities in the town, supporting law and order, human rights, child protection and civil affairs. This is helping pave the way for more people to return home to Malakal to live with dignity and hope for a brighter future.

Hazel Dewet, the Head the UNMISS of Field Office In Malakal, said, “It’s encouraging to note that life is slowly returning back to Malakal town, the second largest in South Sudan. I have been engaging with the women for several months, and the one message that I continuously hear is that they want peace. They want peace for themselves, their family and most importantly that their children could return to school, and they can develop a prosperous and peaceful future for the people of South.”

Eliza said she hopes that Malakal regains what it used to be like prior to 2013 when everyone lived freely and in peace. Peace that is slowly returning to this once proud town as Malakal re-awakens – one baker, one fish vendor and one tea maker at a time.

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