As the world continues to battle this pandemic, women in South Sudan have started an initiative to support each other despite the difficult time everyone is facing.
The already troubling economic environment caused by political instability has made it hard for many South Sudanese to cope with the adverse impact of Covid-19 on their sources of livelihood.
Therefore, women are not an exception given their nature that traditionally in most South Sudanese homes they have to take care of the family.
The fact that many organizations have closed down and businesses were affected by the measures imposed to contain the virus, the situation has made women to come up with creative ways to support themselves and their families.
A group of women organized themselves and founded an association locally known as “Lijo ‘Kuba group” loosely translated as women married in the same village.
The group’s chairperson Salome Kwaje said they decided to form the group in order to devise a way of supporting themselves as women during this difficult time of the pandemic.
Kwaje, said the group had started with very few members with the intention of helping one another.
She explained that they were only three and now they have over fifteen members.
She added the group offers financial, social and emotional support to its members in order to better cope up with life instead of stress during this of global pandemic.
“Our main aim is to unite us as women married in the same village and we visit all our members and make sure we support the members with some finances, raise awareness on parenting and psychosocial support,” she told us.
The chairlady explained that in their group some of the members are not working. They are housewife and sometimes have inadequate family basic needs.
She added that the members are asked to give a monthly contribution of about 3,500 South Sudanese Pounds which is equivalent to 6 USD.
Kwaje stressed that the monthly contribution is used in case a member is faced with some challenges like funeral or if a member has given birth they can pay a home visit with some material support.
She added the amount is also loaned out to the members who want to start a small business and they refund it with 20% interest.
“The amount that we collect from our members is used as loan in case a member wants to start-up a business and also we take part of the money and shop a few household items for our members especially when they give birth. With the current economic situation things are hard but this little contribution helps a lot,” Salome explained.
She also said that so far about four women were able to receive support from the group.
“Four members from the group have already taken loan and the loan has a 20% interest and currently we have over 15 members. Like during this time of covid-19 many people are going through stress and a lot of domestic violence. We thought that it’s very important for us women to support each other,” the leader explained.
Even if some of their members lost their jobs due to the outbreak of Covid-19 in March, they will always find a way to help them survive this difficult moment as others are talented in different ways.
Kitale Christine is a member of the women group and she said, she learned a lot of things when she joined the group.
Christine said she learned about Gender Based Violence-GBV, business tips and also some health tips especially regarding the corona virus pandemic.
“I learned a lot from this group especially about awareness on child protection Gender based violence, business and also health tips. I’m also grateful to the group because when I gave birth the member came to visit me and they brought a lot of gifts for the baby.”
She added that the group members were also able to give her financial support which she was able to use to buy few items at home.
“I received some money from the members and some baby items like pampers, soap, detergent etc. I’m encouraging women in this country to support each other especially during this difficult time of covid-1 pandemic”.
Coronavirus pandemic has killed about 60 people in the country. The women are encouraging people to continue following the health measures as there is still no cure for the potentially deadly virus.
According to the latest updates from the COVID-19 Weekly Situation Report, South Sudan has now registered a total of 3206 cases as of December 12th,.
The country has also confirmed death toll of 62 and 3043 recoveries.
The production of this story was supported by Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa
as part of the efforts to showcase resilience, innovation and solidarity in COVID-19 response in Eastern Africa.