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Orphaned children and UNMISS personnel come together for Eid Al-Adha celebrations

Rwandan Peacekeepers teach children how to make pinwheels out of leaves and sticks while volunteering at the Hope for South Sudan Orphanage in Moti.

The sound of children clapping, singing, and laughing joyfully resonated loudly throughout the compound at the Hope for South Sudan Orphanage in Moti as Eid Al-Adha celebrations got underway.

The children were joined by staff from the United Nations Mission in South Sudan who have a close bond with the orphans after conducting special patrols to the orphanage when it was caught in the crossfire between government and opposition forces.

UNMISS civilian staff, UN police officers, and Rwandan peacekeepers volunteered their time supporting the event in the spirit of giving back to the community as well as enjoying themselves by dancing, singing and playing games with the children.

Some UNMISS personnel demonstrated traditional songs from their own home countries, such as Malaysian UN police officer, Emmanuel Stephens Siluvaiah, who taught the children the song Rasa Sayang which means “I feel love” in Malay.

Fellow Malaysian police officer, Jasman Bin Junaidi, refereed a football match full of suspense between two teams of energetic and enthusiastic boys, which resulted in a 1-0 outcome with the only goal scored in the final moments of the game.

Rwandese peacekeepers sparked the children’s curiosity by teaching them how to make miniature pinwheels from leaves that spun with the wind while Arturo Rubaclava, a UN Volunteer from Spain, demonstrated and refereed a game called “capture the flag”.

Personnel from UNMISS’ base in Torit decided to volunteer at the orphanage following tensions in recent months between government and opposition forces that put the children’s lives at risk and left them traumatized. Since then, UNMISS has regularly patrolled the area to monitor the situation, but staff members wanted to do more for the children and chose to spend their holiday brightening their day.

Head of UNMISS’ Torit Field Office, Mary Cummins, said she admired the efforts of those caring for the children at the orphanage.

“This was a very special occasion because the main priority of the United Nations is protection of civilians and to try and ensure there is durable peace in South Sudan. I am very happy that we have been able to volunteer our resources and come together. We really admire the work that the staff at the orphanage are doing. It is a great service for South Sudan,” she said.

UNMISS donated food, sports items, and educational supplies, along with prizes for the various activities held. The day spent together inspired hope within the children who have resumed their normal school activities since the tensions were resolved, while UNMISS personnel were invigorated by the opportunity to bring joy to the children and to experience a strong sense of community