AKI's Humane Education Program in South Sudan
This is a story of the incident that spurred the 1st efforts, in 2006, to use Humane Education in South Sudan to improve the plight of animals.
While driving down a road in Juba, South Sudan's capital, Natalie screeched her vehicle to a halt, and yelled out her window, "What do you think you are doing?" which made me (Karen) look up at a boy kicking a puppy down the road.
I jumped out of the vehicle, grabbed the puppy and got back in the vehicle, as Natalie drove us and the puppy off to safety.
Diesel fumes soon drenched the vehicle, and we noticed the puppy, only about five weeks old, was doused in fuel. We got back to our camp, and bathed and fed the puppy, and got permission from the camp manager to keep the puppy there. Already by the end of the first day, it was obvious she was well-adjusted to her new life with no negative effects from that horrible experience.
The puppy, who Natalie named Thuraya, evoked some interesting comments and conversations among the people at the camp. Many of our Sudanese colleagues didn't understand why we cuddled her, and how we could endlessly watch her play and sleep. We didn't understand why some of them would just as soon throw a rock at her. This incident and the subsequent discussions brought to light the need for humane education, and for raising the visibility and awareness of animal welfare among South Sudan's population.
Humane Education in Juba and AKI's role (2006) Three themes emerged from our discussions about Humane Education:
TV is still uncommon in South Sudan, and most people listen to radios. Broadcast something on the radio, and you are sure to get listeners.
Most South Sudanese are Christians and are very religious and attend church regularly. If anyone can get a message across, it is a pastor, preacher, or other religious figure.
Children are usually the ones charged with caring for the animals in a family, are usually the ones most likely to mistreat an animal (often this happens as part of their concept of play), and are also the ones most amenable to new ideas and change.
We realized we had many challenges to overcome, mainly:
This Humane Education program would be the first ever effort of its type in South Sudan; there had been no other animal welfare initiative here before.
The country was still exceedingly poor and under-developed.
There was still a conflict mentality.
The first Humane Education team started slowly, but built a good foundation for future HE volunteers. Some of the successes have been:
• The HE volunteers spoke to church leaders, encouraging them to give sermons on humane treatment of animals. • They visited Sunday school classes and had art contests and used other locally acceptable means, to get across the concept of treating animals kindly. • They were able to get some short messages on the radio to raise awareness of treating animals kindly. It's a long road, with ups and downs, but we're moving in the right direction for South Sudan's animals.