This update is from Anyieth D'Awol, founder and executive director of the Roots Project, from her recent visit to the Centre in Juba. "In early February 2014, the women of the ROOTS Project started returning to the Centre. They sat together catching up while their children played. Some were cleaning the shop and washing beads covered in dust. There were no beads so they were not beading. Many had fled to their villages, many also stayed. During that time twenty women came together from different tribes and regions. We all sat together around a table and we shared our stories; where we were. the people we were with and how we felt during the initial days and weeks of the fighting. We talked of the people we lost and how it affected our families and communities. It was a somber gathering. We listened to a song by Mer Ayang, 'Kore, Kore' (Cry, Cry) about the recent events in South Sudan. "Kore, kore, fi belendna, nasi riga tani fi gaba. Kore, kore fi Malakal lahadi fi Juba, Jere, Jere fi Bor, fi Bentiu, wadi raha, Mama Africa" (Cry, Cry, in our country, people are running to the bush again, Cry, cry in Malakal all the way to Juba, flee, flee in Bor, in Bentiu, give us rest, Mama Africa.) In this painful moment though, the real beauty of South Sudan is still evident, there is a hope we must hold on to. At the Centre, the mothers are sisters to each other. They called and provided support to each other during the hardest times in recent years. They came together to share love with sisters as they try to make sense of a country where during a lull in the violence people try to continue to live their lives while so many are gone forever, some are lost in the bush and tens of thousands are surviving in camps fearing for their lives.
We decided to start working again, buy beads, and take production orders and to reach out to mothers and sisters directly affected by this conflict and share the way we work. It is clear that what we were striving to achieve together is what was needed in the whole country and that is our mission. To respect and appreciate cultural and tribal diversity and realize the strength we possess together. To truly understand that their is no difference between us because what we all desperately want is exactly the same: the need to live peaceful lives, to be safe and be able to develop and contribute to our nation equally and that we can never be a nation without each other."
(Anyieth currently splits her time between South Sudan, Mozambique and Brooklyn with her husband Tim and daughter Saida)