Catholic Nuns in South Sudan Providing Skills-training in IDP Rehabilitation Programs

A member of the Society of Daughters of Mary Immaculate and collaborators providing healthcare assistance to a little child

In an effort to provide Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) with opportunities and skills that are efficient, adequate and acceptable for socioeconomic environment, Catholic Nuns in South Sudan are providing rehabilitation and community reintegration programs for those living in camps in the country.

Speaking to ACI Africa on Wednesday, March 17, the Country Director for Society of Daughters of Mary Immaculate and collaborators (SDMIC), Sr. Jeny Maila, said that members of her Religious Congregation are focusing more on a recovery approach than the food security program that was the previous focus.

Beneficiaries are people who have been driven out of their ancestral homes and are now living at the United Nations’ (UN) Protection of Civilian (PoC) camp in Juba.

“Over the years, the SDMIC have been supporting the people with relief materials but now we want to see that they get back to their places and start doing everything on their own, becoming self-sustainable and expect nothing from others,” Sr. Maila told ACI Africa.


Countering the belief that IDPs and refugees are lazy and overdependent, the native of India said that the vulnerable people are determined to rebuild their shattered lives and that so far, an exit strategy is being drawn.

“If they want to move to their own regions like Malakal or from somewhere, we are trying to see how to reintegrate them with their families,” she said, and added, “We hope that those who would want to go back would be sustained by the knowledge of skills we are giving them.”

“Actually, this time we are making an assessment and study of people who are interested in going back to their own region. We are going to study this year and make a consolidated report of the number of families wanting to move to their own home areas,” Sr. Maila further said.

She explained that apart from creating awareness on peace, members of her Religious Order are also engaging the youth in camps in skill-based training to expose them to income generating ventures. 

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The youth, she told ACI Africa, are offered beautician courses and masonry courses on construction, and that there are also plans to offer the youth electrical and plumbing courses.

Over 20 DMI (Daughters of Mary Immaculate) Nuns currently minister in South Sudan in several thematic areas, especially on peace matters. Nearly a half of them are based in the Archdiocese of Juba, among them, a trained doctor and two social workers.

In the interview with ACI Africa, the Congregation’s Country Director said the Nuns have formed peace and reconciliation committees.

The aim of the committees is to prepare the residents in the camp for a return to communities outside the camp. The committees have also been established to create good relations in the communities in which the IDPs would be received.


Whenever there are minor conflicts within the camp, the committees intervene and resolve the problem, the Nun said, adding, “The committee members have been offered mediation and reconciliation skills so that they are able to solve the issues among the communities amicably.”

“One of our programs in the camp is based on peace building; we make sure communities have peace among themselves. We raise awareness on the peace building and COVID-19 prevention program so that they are able to protect themselves from the virus that is affecting people,” she said.

The DMI members also serve among lactating mothers through the health program, the Indian-born Nun said, explaining, “We are able to reach out to them (lactating mothers) and take care of their health as well as take care of the malnourished children and breastfeeding babies.”

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“Nearly 200 children are receiving food packages that are distributed to them so that they are able to take care of their health,” Sr. Maila said.

She continued, “Through the health program, mothers are having an awareness program on the health basis and we provide them with nutritious food to take care of their children who are malnourished.”

The Nuns are also supporting schools in the camp that hosts some 1500 students. Two schools in POC 1 and POC 3 are entirely run by DMI, says Sr. Maila. 

Highlighting the medical care provided by the Nuns at the camp, the Country Director said, “Once a month, our doctor Sister takes to the medical camp for the community we are supporting. In the camp, we are allotted with certain zones and it is in those zones where DMI directs its programs.”

“We are directly targeting 800 families. Family members benefit in our different components, the children are in school and participate in the health program, and the youth participate in the skill-training program,” she explained.