A Photo Essay of Child Friendly Spaces in South Sudan

“I know that without peace people cannot grow. It is a very sad reality. You can’t plan for anything. Everything stops. War stops development” – Bishop Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala

For people living in conflict, every day is filled with uncertainty and fear. Not knowing what might happen, stops people from truly living. For children in war-torn countries, it can mean the end of a future. The Bishop explains, “When you move around in the communities, you see so many children, beautiful children, and you know these children are not able to do anything. You see ruined childhoods, ruined futures. And they don’t have a mindset for a future. People live only for today. They don’t think, ‘I am going to go to school, go to college, plan for my career.’ So many young people here have no path forward.”

Children in South Sudan

While hundreds of former child soldiers have been released, thousands remain in captivity, forced to witness and do unspeakable things. One of the biggest casualties, apart from human life, are lost childhoods. There are no easy responses or solutions to this. While speaking to the children recently released, I was overwhelmed to hear all that they had been through, all that they had witnessed, and all that they had been forced to do. But I was also overcome by their energy and spirits.

A child in a child friendly space shares a huge smile.

CMMB and other organizations working in the context of conflict and war, use a tool called Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) to help support and protect children in the context of emergencies. CFS are used as a mechanism of protecting children from risk, to promote children’s psychosocial well-being, and as a foundation for strengthening community child protection capacity. Here are some moments captured in these child friendly spaces. Look closely at the smiles.

Angela Namaku, a member of our child protection team, leads children in an activity in a child friendly space.

Angela Namaku, a member of our child protection team, leads children in an activity in a child friendly space.

A girl in South Sudan is jumping rope. She is jumping for joy.

Skipping is one of the many activities the child protection team lead in the child friendly spaces.

Catherine is the head of our child protection team in South Sudan. Here she joins the children in a game in a child friendly space.

Catherine Onkware leads the amazingly energetic child protection team in Yambio, South Sudan. Here she shows her own amazing energy as she joins the children in a game.

The children are holding each other's shoulders as part of a game during CFS activities.

Kids being kids. Fun activities really bring children together and help build trust.

“One of the best things about these activities, is the way you see kids just being kids.” – Fred, CFS animator 

Children play a game of human tug of war. Child friendly spaces bring joy to those living in conflict.

A little group work reminds us that we need each other to succeed.

Holding on for peace. Two children hold hands during child protection activities

Remembering we are not alone. Building trust and friendships is an important part of the psycho-social work we do in South Sudan.

Everyone follow me children in child friendly space in South Sudan
CMMB is working to deliver healthier lives worldwide. Here our child protection project manager.

Just look at that look! The girl in pink shares a special moment with Catherine during a mini break.

A joyful moment captured in a child friendly space in South Sudan

A joyful moment captured in a child friendly space in South Sudan.

Children at child friendly spaces in South Sudan

A child takes the lead. Building confidence is a very important part of the activities.

Child friendly space activities in action in South Sudan

Fred – a child friendly space animator – is as joyful as the children he is working with. “There is no better job!”

The face of one boy living in South Sudan

“Thanks for giving us hope.”

At the end of a child friendly space session, the kids come together and put their hands in the middle Everyone's hands in for the celebratory end

“Put your hands together!” At the end of session, the children come together and share a cheer.

Watch CFS Activities in Action

See a glimpse of CMMB’s child protection team leading CFS activities. Their dedication brings laughter, smiles, and memories to children who deserve nothing less. Watch Video!

Button for giving towards peace around the world.