By Daniel Bol
The South Sudanese women living in Melbourne have strongly realised the need to educate more women for the future of the newly independent country.
Last Saturday, the fundraising event launched at Mitcham was an amazing and encouraging initiative for the future of South Sudanese women, both those living in Australia and those that live back in South Sudan.
The Baai Bor Women Association, just three years old, is an organisation founded by women. It is a fast-growing project, with an aim to build a permanent school for girls in Jonglei State. This idea is a challenging initiative from aspiring individuals who have realised that education is a greater problem in Sudan than it even was before the civil war.
Sudan is part of the Third World nations, where the war has greatly affected the future of women for many decades. The impact of this is that many of women who come from Sudan arrive without basic educational skills. It’s greatly lowering their employment opportunities, as well as their ability to communicate and pursue further academic studies.
Australia is a nation with a variety of education services to cater for a large influx of migrants. Australia realised the need to help and offered many basic programs, including adult education services. Out of those countries where citizens were not able to access a better education, Sudan is one of the severely affected nations.
But despite many services that are being delivered to all refugees in terms of education, Sudanese women are falling behind the fast and free learning here in Australia. This creates constraints for those women in terms of job interviews, using banks, hospitals and transport services and liaising with Centrelink. This is not a simple problem and no one is to blame for it, except the causes of the original conflict and Government negligent in Sudan.
In contrast, many nations in developed society see women’s education as vitally important. Women are always custodians of the nation; they universally provide some significant contributions to the nation and the wider society when they are educated.
As a consequence, the bitter reflections of the fast and painful experiences from this situation has prompted the South Sudanese women in Victoria to form their own organisation that helps both older women – whose education has been affected by the war – and young women and girls, who have got their basic education from universities, colleges and high schools in Australia. They aim to join women together for brainstorming discussions on what would be the best way to help their fellow sisters who they believe are dying from growing poverty and lack of education in South Sudan.
South Sudan has just achieved independence as an autonomous state, but is still on a slow recovery in the learning process. In general, the value of young women in Sudan is a painful experience to explain in term of education, since they are only to be married off when they have reached the minimum adolescent age, usually between sixteen and seventeen years. This notion remains because of poverty and a way of life where parents demand dowries as income from their daughter.
It doesn’t matter for the parents whether the girl is in school or not. The parent would explicitly overlook the future of educated women for the price they would receive from whoever is marrying their daughter.
In mobilization to correct this situation, Baai Bor women in Victoria are happy to have found this organization as an alternative solution, which they therefore believe is a golden future for young girls in South Sudan, especially in Jonglei State.
The inhabitants of this state are three communities of Nuer, Murle and Dinka – their way of life is predominantly a cattle herding business, where freedom of education will be hard for young women, except for those from the family of educated lineage. So this project is aiming to bring the learning center to Bor, the capital of Jonglei State, mainly for young girls and young women so that they will engage in learning until they will be able to identify their future among the generations of the 21st century.
All people were actually willing to support the movement, even including the young male graduates here in Australia. Ajak, one of the organizers of the fundraising, encourages all young men to get along. “You men, you have to contribute, these are the girls whom you go yearly and pinch off your wives among them from overseas. Support us so that we educated them,” she said. This is an encouraging reality.
The call from women was compelling to all people that they need money from able people, and basic skills from their Australian brothers and sisters, to support the project for the success of building the girls primary school in Bor. Mrs Ayoor, the president of the organization, has applauded the Government of the Jonglei State in her opening speech for their offer of the land to build a school in the city. The project has already commenced with classroom foundations being built, and Australian brothers and sisters will have to come to Bor with the skills of teachers to help with mentor the young women.