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