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Empowerment of rural women in South Sudan and Honduras

Empowering the rural women of Wau, in South Sudan

South Sudan is a very young country, which has not yet completed its first year of life. Its definitive independence from the North was declared on July 9, 2011. The country is rich in water and petroleum, but years of war have blocked any development. Here the FMA have two centres, one at Tonj and the other at Wau. The latter is the example of best practice that the FMA will report on at the CSW Conference.

During the second Sudanese war, in 1998, Wau became military base for the Karthoum forces and this forced thousands to abandon their homes and leave the country because of fear. Many fields were also destroyed by the combatants and many of the women were left without work.

IIMA , together with UNICEF and the WFP takes care of the distribution of foodstuffs to 25,000 people, helping them to return to normality.

At the end of the war, to support the rural women, the IIMA started a programme of re-evaluation that included: door to door visits to motivate the women; courses to learn skills, offering a certain amount of food and a small monetary recompense. Today one could say that this commitment has borne fruit. It is worth remembering that among the women who took part in the course, there are now 18 in three different villages, who cultivate and sell garden produce; 6 own a little restaurant in the nearby city; 16 work in embroidery; 8 of them run two tea shops and 35 cultivate grain seasonally and many others are involved in different works.

Health. The most important project in the area of health in Wau was the establishment of a little hospital. On the arrival of the FMA, in 1984, the only working hospital was the government one that worked in fits and starts because of the war and lack of personnel. Tuberculosis, leprosy and every kind of epidemic were causing deaths. Besides, many years of war had left wounds also in the psyche of the women and young people.

Thanks to the help of the Church authorities, a hospital was built that provides many services today, including: first aid, vaccination, preventive health care through laboratory tests, a programme on TB, nutrition programmes and others. Thanks to the hospital and the hygiene and health services it offers, children can be taught hygiene practices and the number of deaths from illness have been reduced. The new-born, too, are being properly fed.

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