Online training in South Sudan

In 2020, a training course was planned for community counsellors from Wau, South Sudan. Due to corona, the training could not take place on location. Online was the only alternative. It was a great success, despite the challenges of the often unstable Internet connection and the literal and cultural distance from South Sudan. What did we learn?

Elise Griede, project manager and senior advisor at ARQ International: "Training a team in South Sudan online would not have been considered a possibility pre-Covid. It is certainly not ideal, but at the same time, it shows creativity from both sides. This online pilot provides ARQ with inspiration and experience to think about future online training opportunities in the international field - also in the most vulnerable areas."

An extraordinary sensation
ARQ provided six basic training courses to expand the psychosocial knowledge and skills of the South Sudanese community counsellors of the humanitarian aid organisation Red een Kind (Save a Child). During the training, we received support from two local facilitators in South Sudan. They supported our trainers by stimulating the trainees to actively work with the teaching materials. But also by providing cultural context to the trainers in the Netherlands.

Hanneke Snetselaar, trainer and licensed healthcare psychologist at ARQ Centrum'45:

"An extraordinary sensation; One moment we were sitting in the office in Diemen or Oegstgeest. The next moment we were travelling to a hotel in Wau, South Sudan, through our online screen. Six enthusiastic community counsellors and two local facilitators joined us on this adventure. Despite the sometimes faltering Internet connection, the cultural distance and the challenge of learning new skills online, we handed out well-deserved certificates. This would not have been possible without the boundless motivation of the trainees and the close involvement of the facilitators James and Lucy, our eyes and ears on the ground.”

Psychosocial support is much needed
The protracted conflict in South Sudan is affecting thousands of people, including many children. In refugee camps, shelter, food and health are priorities. However, mental health support is needed just as much. Even young children are affected by traumatic events. Therefore, Save a Child Foundation and TNO in cooperation with ARQ International are developing an intervention - Build Your Own Buddy (BoB) - specifically aimed at this young target group and their parents. To secure the knowledge and skills acquired, we will organise a series of follow-up sessions and new training courses in 2021.