Last week, we blogged about Cynthia Davis and Cory McMahon – two Carl Wilkens Fellows with United to End Genocide who are currently traveling in Uganda and South Sudan with Gabriel Bol Deng and Hope for Ariang.

(Pictured left to right) Cynthia, Alaa, Gabriel and Cory during their meeting to discuss the Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health Initiative.

Cynthia and Cory are keenly interested in advancing the sustainable development of South Sudan’s women and girls, and it has been a focus of their trip so far. Upon their arrival in Juba, South Sudan they met with Alaa, a Program Coordinator for the Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health Initiative associated with Mass General Hospital in Boston, where Cory is a nurse. Alaa discussed ways in which they train front line health care workers in rural villages to provide emergency care during child birth. The program has trained 72 master trainers in 10 states throughout South Sudan who have reached over 700 front-line health care workers.

The ROOTS Project was also on Cynthia and Cory’s agenda in Juba. The ROOTS Project is a South Sudanese non-governmental organization established in June 2009 to empower communities through the preservation and production of traditional arts and crafts. Cynthia said,

It was inspiring to see how the women were stringing beads using bamboo and other local resources. Women are brought to Juba in groups, trained in jewelry making in the workshop, and then sent back to villages with materials to work by themselves.  We will keep this opportunity in mind as we evaluate the business possibilities for the women in Ariang.

Cynthia and Cory also met with Santino Majok Deng, the Director General for the Ministry of Gender, Child, and Social Welfare. “The advancement of women is a huge priority in the newly formed country,” Cynthia said. They also discussed the current challenges facing the South Sudanese government, specifically the oil crisis, food shortage, border violence and tribal conflicts. “I felt an incredible sense of commitment to peace from Mr. Deng,” she said. “Although these issues keep them from focusing on the development of important programs, they are committed to peaceful resolutions to these conflicts.”

Stay tuned to our blog for more on Cynthia and Cory’s trip to South Sudan, including the role they see for U.S.-based activists who want to do more to advocate for peace throughout Sudan.

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