Youth-led ideas for capturing life in Bentiu and Rubkona areas through videos are plentiful. New small-scale farming is sprouting up in households across the two towns. Volleyball matches are being hosted, including both men’s and women’s teams. Women are running small businesses in the Bentiu market.
Another youth has the idea to document the day in the life of a primary school student from the Protection of Civilians (POC) site. Two others are excited to capture footage of newly arrived returnees coming from Sudan by bus. Another wants to do a report on traditional court proceedings related to youth cases. There’s kickboxing training ongoing in the POC, and fishing and river crossings happening every day.
With support of KOICA, UNDP trainers provided a group of eight youth peace committee members with an intensive crash course in camera basics, videography, post-production and editing, and visual storytelling. Together they created a plan to document 25 stories as a team – starting with 15 pressing stories they want to tell right away.
“According to my plan, I will shoot a video about the football and volleyball games which are bringing the youth together in a peaceful way. Peace is important to us. A person cannot be free when staying in the POC, we cannot access many things there, including university studies,” said Eida Osama Mayian, 21, a youth leader and trainee from the POC.
The first video the group completed was an introduction to the Bentiu Youth Peace Center, to help highlight features of the facility for organizations interested in hosting activities on the premises. The Youth Peace Center launched in May 2019.
“We are working together here to bring peace back to Bentiu and to share with people our activities so that they can understand. We want our community to be together and leave the bad things behind,“ said Charles Mabany Tekjiek, 31, the peace and reconciliation secretary of the Bentiu youth peace committee.
The youth peace committee members comprise of individuals from Bentiu and Rubkona towns, as well as the Rubkona Protection of Civilians (POC) site. The eight members of the video production team are part of a larger group of 44 youth leaders jointly trained together as peace champions and now participants of the active peace committees. Prior to last year, many of these youth leaders, and their members, had not met formally since the start of civil war.
The trainings and construction of the Youth Peace Center form part of UNDP’s support to the Beyond Bentiu Protection of Civilian Site (PoC) - Creating Conditions for Peaceful Coexistence between Youth, Internally Displace Persons, Returnees and Host Communities project, initiated in 2017 and implemented alongside IOM, with funding support from the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund.
The positive stories emerging from the collaboration among youth and communities are a newer feature of life in Bentiu and Rubkona. Alternative narratives, if documented well, will inform the larger population and the world community that Bentiu has life beyond conflict.