Story of Change: Hon. Christine’s participation and influence in transitions from conflict in South Sudan
At a recent visit to our KAIROS partner, South Sudan Council of Churches in South Sudan, my colleagues Radia Mbengue and Barbara Mangwende and I were privileged to witness the work of SSCC’s National Women’s Programme (NWP) which is supported through the KAIROS’ Women of Courage: Women, Peace and Security program. The women’s groups of the NWP have been coined Women Link as the name for these collaborative groups that include women from local churches and communities, politics, civil society and media. The work of the NWP is positioned on the foundation of faith, and women are therefore able to convene in neutral fora between groups, and in communities in conflict, for conversations to build trust.
I talked to Christine Anita Phillip, a longtime member of the NWP or Women Link, who is now also a nominated Member of Parliament. She shared her incredible story of change.
“I am Christine Anita Phillip from the African Inland Church (AIC), and a member of Women Link. I am the current women director of the AIC, representing women from my church at the South Sudan Council of Churches’ National Women Program. I am also the AIC denomination representative at the SSCC. I am also a sitting Member of Parliament.
I have witnessed personal impacts in my life and community through my participation in the women’s program at SSCC. When I joined other women at Women Link, my commitment and participation at the church and my community led to my first appointment as a Minister in the now defunct Yei River State for two years. After the dissolution of the State, I worked at SSCC’s Psychosocial Support Centre for some time before my appointment as a current Member of Parliament.
I carry the voices of women and messages of peace in the community, church and in government, urging everyone to work together to bring peace to South Sudan. I am also involved in law-making at the legislature. I think these are areas which we can work collaboratively to bring change and peace to this country.
The programs at SSCC have made a very great impact on the lives of people. We combine advocacy, awareness-raising from house-to-house and on radio talk shows, and prayer meetings to bring change in the community and even in our own families. When the war escalated in 2013, the women intensified monthly prayer meetings, some of which we conducted on the roadsides. We marched on the streets, we knelt on the roads because many people were killed on those roads, and we prayed for healing, love and peace. God gave us this country, and real peace comes from Him. There is more than just signing agreements on paper. Unfortunately, tribalism has taken root in this country causing a lot of atrocities. We are also dealing with the detriments of corruption, internal displacement and unemployment. At SSCC, women are bringing different groups of people together – the youth, women, men, community leaders and public officials, to push for implementation of practical solutions for the people of South Sudan. The women of South Sudan are committed to the WPS program, in their own denominations and in their communities. You can already witness the transformation and hope from their faces here. We are walking in better coexistence and living by example. We are grateful for the support from the SSCC.”
Jane Thirikwa, KAIROS Global Partnerships Coordinator