Agau, 13, and her family, fled the fighting in Jonglei state, South Sudan, and resettled in Melijo refugee camp for internally displaced people.
She is one of 900,000 children who have been internally displaced in South Sudan since the civil war began in December 2013. In addition, 13,000 children are missing or separated from their families and an estimated 16,000 have been recruited by armed forces and groups.
Agau has been able to enroll at school in the camp despite not having received a formal education for years. South Sudan has the highest proportion of out-of-school children in the world – over 50% do not receive an education. In addition to learning academic subjects, Agau is learning peace-building skills through the joy of play.
It is fun. Me and my friends love it
The Play for Peace project, implemented in the camp by Plan International, works with children in conflict zones to spread laughter, compassion and peace.
“It is fun. Me and my friends love it,” says Agau. “I play this game at school and when I go home, I get my friends in the neighborhood to play it as well – it’s a very fun game.”
Feeling like children again
David Lual, a teacher at the school, says, “The games we play involve a lot of role play aimed at instilling a sense of unity and acceptance of diversity, and above all to enable the children to relieve themselves of stress and be happy. The games have enabled children to feel like children again.
“I have been able to help the pupils deal with stress since many of them have suffered traumatic experiences which prevent them from focusing and learning properly.”
Plan International is providing schooling and psychosocial support to ensure children like Agau do not have their lives disrupted by the conflict. We are also helping families earn an income in the camp and provide training on disaster risk reduction and child protection.