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Making a difference for South Sudan's future

South Sudan, February 23, 2011

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  <span class="field-credit">
    Riak Paul Awuol/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Southern Sudanese citizens standing in line waiting to cast their votes in January's referendum. Photo: Riak Paul Awuol/Mercy Corps

Last month in Southern Sudan, a referendum was conducted to determine independence from the rest of Sudan. In support of this historic vote, Mercy Corps trained program officers and reached out to the Sudanese people on ways to be well-informed about the voting process and conduct a peaceful referendum.

We formed a referendum coalitions around the objectives of creating awareness, as well as teaching why it is important to be registered and show up during the voting process. Mercy Corps helped create 25 coalitions, with the expectation of reaching out to 143,000 community members These coalitions went beyond their estimated outreach and actually ended up reaching 158,124 community members through almost 300 meetings in 137 different areas around Southern Sudan.

It made a difference: when the polling centers opened on January 9, people were competing to be the first person in line!

At the centre where I was registered, I arrived at 4:12 A.M. and thought I would be the first person in the queue. But can you imagine my surprise when I showed up and realized I was the 998th person to get there?

I felt excited and proud of my community, as well as Mercy Corps, for the great achievement and wonderful work done through the coalitions.