Buay Gach Teip, 20, grew up in the Uror Zone in South Sudan with his family. As the war took its toll on his home country, he decided to leave South Sudan, in hopes of a better future in Ethiopia.
“Since 2013, everything in South Sudan has been destroyed by the war, including all the schools”, Buay explains. “I was just sitting at home and trying to survive and support my family by collecting firewood. I came to Ethiopia searching for education. I wish to learn, so that I can bring peace to South Sudan, and make my country better again.”
At the refugee camp, Buay decided he wanted to do something for his community. “I used to volunteer for International Medical Corps when I was in South Sudan”, he says, “and I decided to continue doing so here.”
Buay now volunteers with International Medical Corps in Pugnido II refugee camp in a program supported by the START Fund, with a focus on preventing and responding to gender-based violence (GBV). He and other volunteers act as community mobilizers, organizing discussions through coffee and tea ceremonies, which can reach up to 300 people per day.
Buay is committed to promoting equality for women and girls. “In South Sudan, women do not get the same treatment as men. But I believe all people are equal and women should be given the same chances as men get. GBV is a big problem in our community and I want to change that.”
Community mobilizers share information to help survivors of violence access support. International Medical Corps works with survivors, helping women and girls recover from incidents of sexual and domestic violence, as well as other forms of GBV. Trained staff provide individualized support to survivors, and International Medical Corps also organizes group activities and discussions for women and girls in safe spaces in the camp.
“Another important aspect of GBV prevention is education”, Buay says. “I am trying to change the situation by educating the community. We ensure that the refugee camps are a safe and secure place for everybody. We also inform people of the consequences of unsafe sex such as sexually transmitted infection and HIV/AIDS.
“The presence of International Medical Corps here has made such a big difference to us, and I want to thank them for their work. Without International Medical Corps we would not feel comfortable here.”