Fostering Unity and Peace Through Song, Drama and Art
A Peace club formed by South Sudanese refugees in Imvepi settlement has contributed to bringing peaceful coexistence between refugees and host communities. Comprising of 20 men and 10 women, the club called “Voice of Peace” formed in August 2019 and has greatly yielded fruits of peace. The group conducts sensitization on good hygiene practices, preaches peace through arts; songs and drama.
Recently, a short play was staged to sensitize the community about Gender-Based Violence. From this, 7 families were reunited with the family heads as their behaviours had been influenced and changed.
Refugees and Host Communities Share Testimonies
“I just heard the sound of music from the harps, and crossed to listen, when I reached the venue of the drama, I thought the group was acting against me but I learnt it was for my good and changed my life,” Matthew said.
Matthew said he disrespected his parents and would abuse them after getting drunk, but the message struck his heart and stirred a change. He also confesses that he was selfish, he would refuse to support his wife and child, but after listening to the drama the refugee group staged on GBV, he went home and apologized to the wife.
“My own son used to run away from me because I was a violent man, but now I have changed and we live together peacefully. Thanks to the Voice of Peace club that changed my life” Matthew said. Matthew promised to join the group and says it will help him stop idling around.
He is currently living and associating with the South Sudanese refugees after their bitter difference with a south Sudanese ended in the drama message. Matthew commended the peace club for changing lives and influencing unity among the refugees and bringing together the host community to coexist with refugees.
Joseph, 32 years old and father of 8 children including five boys and three girls, says when he joined the group, his family changed. He said, before the group was formed, he lived a life of a drunkard and would not support the home financially. Because of the group, I left drinking and if I face a challenge, I call the group members to advise me. “I have stopped fighting and quarreling with my wife and now we are living peacefully.”
“We now solve the mistake at home in a good way,” she says adding, “It is now three months since we had a fight in the home,” Rose says she has seen four family members change from the violence at home through the drama group and peace club messages.
As a change agent, Rose now advises those in family conflicts especially wives and husbands to live peacefully and resolve it without physical or verbal violence.
The refugees say cases of Gender-Based Violence were high among couples, but this has drastically reduced with continuous engagements undertaken by the peace club.
Joint counseling from one home to another has expanded the network of preaching peace in Imvepi refugee settlement. Already 7 homes have changed from gender-based violence arising from conflict resolution.
Other ventures and future plans
In 2018, the group started a Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA). Through meetings, the refugees are able to share their challenges and find solutions to the problems.
The group has also ventured into Simsim (sesame seeds) growing and raise money for savings and use part of it for managing homes and supporting children in schools. is seeking more skill-training in tailoring, motor vehicle mechanics, driving, baking, hairdressing among others in a bid to diversify their incomes and increase their savings.
Every week on Saturdays and Sundays after prayers, the group members gather under the tree and practice songs and act drama plays which attract both the refugees and host community members to watch. They hope to one day acquire a modern music system with keyboards and console, microphone and recording gadgets to improve on the quality of productions.
They select an idea for discussion and compose songs and drama of the chosen topics. Drums, hoes, chairs, harps a local music instrument called “Adungu” are some of the tools they use for singing and acting the dramas.
The European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid Department (ECHO) provides funding for projects run by its partners in the field to cover the needs of the most vulnerable. Through the work of Oxfam in Uganda and partners like CEFORD, the commission supports the provision of safe water, proper sanitation, and hygiene measures, as well as addressing violence and promoting peaceful coexistence between refugee and host communities which are essential for survival and prevention of diseases.
Members of the group are confident that once CEFORD and Oxfam stop supporting the group; they have devised means for sustainability and will continue with the group to bring change in communities.