Catholic Nuns in South Sudan Constructing Houses to Benefit Dozens of Civil War Victims

A house under construction for war victims in South Sudan

Members of the Daughters of Mary Immaculate (DMI) serving in South Sudan are constructing houses for war victims in the East-Central African country in a project that will see over 100 victims resettled, years after the signing of the peace agreement to end the civil war in the country.

Speaking to ACI Africa Tuesday, March 23, the Country Director for the Society of the DMI and Collaborators (SDMIC), Sr. Jeny Maila said that members of the Religious Order of Nuns have a construction plan that will see 25 families settled outside the country’s capital, in the Archdiocese of Juba.      

“In our assessment, we noted that almost 40 percent of families in Kapuri village near the outskirt Juba are IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons). The people were finding life extremely difficult to settle and meet their basic needs,” Sr. Maila told ACI Africa.

She added, “SDMIC team planned an integrated program focusing on war victims at Kapuri village after realizing the needs of not only the Internally Displaced persons but of also the returnees.”

The Indian-born Nun said that in their approach, the Nuns have strategized to select the beneficiaries of the project in South Sudan “without any bias or any prejudice.”


“The victims chosen for the program include families of widows, women-headed families, family members with disabilities and families with HIV positive persons,” she disclosed, and added, “With the help of the project steering committee, a finalized criterion to choose needy war victims for the program has been made.”

DMI members have selected 120 direct beneficiaries and initiated steps to form Kapuri Development Association (KDA), a body that will coordinate the entire rehabilitation project.

In order to accomplish the objectives of the project, the Nuns have organized the beneficiaries into manageable bodies to streamline service and information flow.

“With the help of a steering committee and KDA, we began steps in forming four Village Saving and Loan Association (VSLA) and commenced saving and internal lending,” Sr. Maila told ACI Africa, and added, “Our Congregation has planned to construct 25 houses for war victims in identified areas in South Sudan and already three houses are under the process of construction.”

She further said, referring to the initiative, “We have introduced the vocational skill training on masonry and beautician courses, which will help youth to earn additional income after detaching from camp humanitarian aid.”

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As a way to have links with the local authorities, Sr. Maila said, “The team has initiated negotiation with village Chiefs to obtain cultivable land for landless war victims and we want to ensure that each war victims get two acres of land to cultivate.”

Some services to be offered in the Kapuri Village program, according to Sr. Maila, include health campaigns and periodical health camps in the entire village to improve accessibility to health services. 

Although SDMIC operates in other South Sudanese episcopal sees such as Rumbek and Wau Dioceses, as well as Juba Archdiocese serving 87 communities with over 62,000 beneficiaries, the current housing project to benefit war victims has been earmarked for in Kapuri Village in Juba Archdiocese.

This project, according to Sr. Maila, is inspired by the formation of a transitional government of national unity that took place in February last year as part of the implementation of the September 2018 Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS).

“The formation of the unity government in 2020 has brought new hope to sustain peace and South Sudanese are hoping for durable peace in the country and they aspire to improve their socio- economic situation,” she told ACI Africa.


She added, “One of the objectives of SDMIC is to prepare the IDPs and reintegrate them with basic facilities to lead a decent life.”

The outbreak of civil strife in December 2013 in South Sudan sent over 3.7 million people as refugees to the neighboring countries. Hundreds of thousands of people became IDPs from their native villages and some of them took shelter in the United Nations camps.

In the last eight years, SDMIC members have been working among the war victims and internally displaced communities focusing on peace, relief, food security and livelihood, rehabilitation and reintegration, education in emergency, and women and girls’ empowerment, Sr. Maila told ACI Africa March 23.