Ajuong Thok’s got talent!On Saturday the 18th of April, DRC and the Youth Council of Ajuong Thok refugee camp in Unity State, South Sudan, inaugurated their new Youth Center with a talent contest and friendly football match.
From South Sudan
“When you go back to Nuba, you should not be the same person that came here. Be active, go to school, learn and become better. Because you, the youth, you are the ones that move our community and our country forward.”
With these words Nabil, the camp Chairman, and representative of the refugee community in Ajuong Thok camp, welcomed the crowd of young and not-so-young who braved the mid-day heat to attend the inauguration of their brand new Youth Center. Abdul Bari Juma, speaker for the camp’s energetic Youth Council, led the festivities, of which the main attraction was the First Edition of the Ajuong Thok’s Got Talent contest, organized by the Youth Council with the support of DRC.
Ajuong Thok Camp is home to more than 25,000 Sudanese refugees from South Kordofan, and this number is continually growing. Over half of the population is youth. This section of the population is particularly disenfranchised as in the camps they cannot access higher education and there is a lack of recreational and employment opportunities.
Idleness and lack of options to put their energy to good use is not only a tragedy in terms of wasted talent, but can also lead to protection concerns. Vandalism has become a serious concern in Ajuong Thok and cases of sexual and gender-based violence are on the rise.
The new Youth Center, established by DRC upon the request of the camp’s youth representatives themselves, will allow the refugee and host communities’ youngsters to organize community-engagement activities, practice their many talents and serve as a venue for training courses on issues such as life skills and conflict management. Space has also been made available within the center to host a small library, whose humble collection of donated books is already growing slowly but surely.
“This is our center, so let’s use it and take care of it”, Abdul Bari encouraged his fellow youngsters over the microphone, giving the cue for the official inauguration. And so, before the cheering crowd, representatives from DRC and the camp’s youth cut the ribbon at the entrance of the center and led in a cheering, clapping, singing and dancing crowd.
For over two hours, group after group of youth performed before an animated audience. Competing talents included theatrical comedy sketches performed by different members of the camp’s own “Central Drama Club”, which produced laughter from the entire audience. Several groups of traditional dancers, musicians, poets and even a soloist who sang “Oh my Youth Center, the best center in the region!", kept the crowd pleased. Drawings submitted by youngsters competing for the “Best Artist” award were also exhibited on one of the center’s walls. The events of the day concluded with a friendly football match between teams representing different blocks in the camp.
Through the talent contest, DRC and the Youth Council intended to promote the formation of “talent clubs” who can make use of the new Youth Centre. DRC, through its DANIDA funding, will not only provide materials for the clubs to use, but also organize events such as this one, in which their talent can be exhibited and encouraged. But most importantly, these events serve to keep demonstrating that despite the hardships, it is a clear fact that, indeed, Ajuong Thok’s got talent!