An independent country since 2011, South Sudan spiraled into civil war in late 2013. The conflict has created a catastrophic humanitarian crisis in which four million people have been forced from their homes and six million people are facing severe food insecurity. The endless violence and displacement puts women and girls at-risk of violent attacks, including rape and sexual assault.
Veronica Agali, known to everyone as Vicki, works day and night to support survivors of violence in Wau, South Sudan. Vicki’s brave and tireless work as a case manager for International Medical Corps ensures that survivors of violence have comprehensive and compassionate interventions, including medical care, psychosocial support and more.
Gender-based violence is a prevalent public health and human rights problem, affecting the physical and psychological health of survivors. Women and girls are particularly vulnerable to violence in emergency settings.
We believe women’s – and children’s – health is a key priority for healthy communities; their wellbeing is essential for the success of those around them. To support women and girls, we work with communities to combat beliefs and practices that perpetuate violence against women and girls. As Vicki explains it: “we provide them with knowledge and materials and empower them with skills-building and livelihoods opportunities.”
Vicki is a leader on the International Medical Corps team, supporting women who have experienced gender-based violence in the wake of intense conflict in Wau. She works day and night to support survivors of violence in the camp. When she receives a call, Vicki works around-the-clock to reach the survivor at the earliest possible hour and provide counseling and other care. Vicki believes that by supporting and helping women and girls now, we are ensuring that the next generation of women will survive and thrive. “If I leave them to die, who will take care of the next generation? “she said. “No one.”
Today, most of Vicki’s work takes place in Wau’s “protection of civilian” (PoC) site, which is home to more than 30,000 internally displaced people. In addition to providing case management for survivors of violence, Vicki also works in International Medical Corps’ women-friendly space in the Wau PoC, where women and girls can socialize, participate in livelihood activities and receive counseling.
It is certainly because of this unwavering commitment that the GBV team estimates Vicki manages more than 70 percent of gender-based violence cases referred to International Medical Corps in Wau. When asked what motivates her to keep going, she said, “I feel proud because I am serving my people and I am proud when I see a smile of these mothers and girls coming to the center. We teach them. We discuss with them. We get updates from them. The smile on the face of a survivor after receiving psychosocial support is the fuel behind the engine.”
This year, we were honored to present our Founder’s Award to Vicki for her dedication to saving lives, combatting gender-based violence, and building self-reliance through training.