Canadian volunteer Lucy Knight joined UNMIS in February 2010 and was seconded to UNICEF to work on the Sudan Information Campaign for Return and Reintegration (SICRR). The campaign targets the Southern Sudanese internally displaced person (IDP) population in Khartoum State and provides them with accurate and up-to-date information on health, protection and geographical topics, so that they can make informed decisions regarding the possibility of returning to their place of origin in Southern Sudan.
"Many of these IDPs in Khartoum state have lived here for over 20 years," says Lucy, who adds, "The decision to voluntarily return is not an easy one to make as many have begun to build a life here in Khartoum." To make this decision IDPs require information on the realities of life, access to services, health risks, livelihood opportunities, mine awareness and basic infrastructure available at their place of origin. SICRR produces and disseminates printed and video information materials through centres set-up in four IDP camps in Khartoum. These centres are coordinated by two Community Based Organisations (CBOs) and one national Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO).
"The CBO/NGOs are run almost exclusively by volunteers who are themselves IDPs living in these communities. These volunteers are living in underdeveloped and high-density settlements and it's really inspiring to see the way the SICRR project provides them with a meaningful way to participate in their community," explains Lucy.
Lucy's educational background is Human Security and Peacebuilding. Working with locally based organizations and volunteers is not new to her, as she previously volunteered in women empowerment projects in Uganda and Swaziland.
Lucy considers that the best part of her UNV assignment is working directly with members of Sudanese civil society and understanding that building peace and strengthening communities relies on the bottom-up initiatives of dedicated volunteers.
In her words, "working with local IDP communities and local CBOs and NGOs here in Khartoum has been very rewarding and fulfilling in terms of seeing that a tremendous local capacity exists to address problems of return and reintegration and livelihood security. It has also been an opportunity for me to showcase the power of volunteerism as a way to positively and influentially address the needs of these communities in such a way."