The MAF Peace and Reconciliation team flew to Kuajok in Warrap State from 17-19 October to run the three-day Healing Hearts and Transforming Nations workshop. The team, including Joseph Maluk, Raphael Joel, Michael Pajok and Sara Nema led the workshop attended by 49 participants.
‘We received a great welcome with a ceremony washing the feet of the facilitators, the way Jesus washed his disciples' feet before he sent them out. I have never experience that before,’ reported lead facilitator Joseph on his return to Juba.
‘The 49 participants enjoyed the workshop. We could see the changes they were experiencing as the workshop progressed,’ he says.
I was happy for the opportunity to share the workshop with my people. When I see people getting help and accepting the teaching it makes me feel like we are coming together as South Sudanese and putting the past behind us
It is the fourth workshop for Sara who trained to become a facilitator earlier this year. ‘We had a lot of teenagers and youth attending. They really understood the topics. They asked a lot of questions,’ she says.
Sara was touched by the heart-breaking stories about family members who died and went missing during the war in Kwajok.
The area faces many challenges including insecurity coming from the cattle keepers, a lack of food and drinking water and schooling for children.
‘My favourite parts are the Cross Workshop, Standing in the Gap and the Kings Table,’ Sara said, naming three of the exercises that help participants to put their learning into action.
The paramount chief urged the people to apply the teaching and made an appeal for MAF to come back and lead more workshops
For Joseph, it is the teaching on prejudice that is most impactful:
‘The teaching on prejudice is really very important - enlightening people to understand the harm they are doing when they generalise about different tribes and people who are different from them. We teach that prejudice is like a landmine that is hidden but harmful and could explode at any time – causing hurt and suffering. Even as facilitators we feel challenged about this sometimes.’
Equally important, is The Cross Workshop, as Joseph explains. ‘The Cross Workshop is an opportunity for people to lay down their pain at the foot of the cross and receive healing and forgiveness. Feeling emotion and bringing it to God is an important part of the process of healing,’ he says.
‘During the Standing in the Gap exercise we teach that you can both give and receive forgiveness on behalf of your community. You can confess and acknowledge things that are not right, accept what your community has done to harm others, and kneel humbly before them to ask for forgiveness, even if we are not the ones that have committed the crime. This helps to bring healing at a community level. After that, you will be able to move forward in peace.’
On the last day, the workshop was attended by the government officials including the Director of Religious Affairs, the youth leader and the paramount chief of the area.
The paramount chief urged the people to apply the teaching. He made an appeal for more workshops and highlighted some of the needs in the community that make it hard to remember the teaching. He urged people not to be divided and distracted by political activities on the run up to the elections in 2024.
The workshop concluded with a joyful celebration with singing and dancing enjoyed by participants and facilitators alike.
‘The workshop was wonderful! There is a high need for the workshop to be done in the Warrap region, because this is the first time we’ve done it. I was happy for the opportunity to share the workshop with my people. When I see people getting help and accepting the teaching it makes me feel like we are coming together as South Sudanese and putting the past behind us,’ Joseph concludes.
The teaching on prejudice is really very important. We teach that prejudice is like a landmine that is hidden but harmful and could explode at any time – causing hurt and suffering