Voices for Sudan partnered with the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) this past Friday, August 8th, to host a roundtable discussion with members of the Civil Society of Sudan, South Sudan, and the United States at the NED offices in Washington D.C.
Jimmy Mulla, president of Voices for Sudan remarked how the African Leadership Summit, which was going on at the time of the event, offered a great opportunity to bring representatives from organizations actually operating in Sudan and South Sudan with those operating here in the states. This presented a unique opportunity to bridge the gap and communicate ideas between people with a common goal who wouldn’t normally interact.
The event featured presentations by a a few of the attendees, but was mostly organized in an open forum format for participants to share idea’s and discuss solutions to the problems facing Sudan and South Sudan.
Greg Hitteleman: Communications Director at the Enough Project, and Rachel Finn: Advocacy Manager at the Enough Project shared some of the strategies they use as part of their jobs to make an impact that can be used by Civil Society and Diaspora members alike.
Hittelman presented different ways to leverage media relations and communications to achieve your goal. Submitting opinion pieces, participating in interviews, and writing articles were just some of the suggested strategies that can help bring attention to, and create an impact regarding your intended cause.
Similarly, Rachel Finn gave a brief overview of the advocacy process and some tips and strategies for meeting with congressional members, and persuading them to help support your cause.
Ijjo Elias spoke on behalf of his group: The South Sudanese Network for Democracy and Elections (SSuNDE). SSuNDE is the largest and most vibrant civil society network in South Sudan, with over 60 civil society organizations.
Much of the discussion revolved around ways that the Civil Society members can connect with the Diaspora and create an impact that results in change. Possible collaborations between the Diaspora community and the Civil Society organizations were discussed and ways that organizations such as Voices for Sudan (which has connections both amongst the Diaspora community in the U.S. and organizations in Sudan and South Sudan) can help bring these groups of people together and unite them under the common goal of creating peace.
It was especially noted that the Diaspora youth, who have acquired better education and are less influenced by ethnic and tribal tensions have the potential to create positive change if engaged.
Mohammed Khalifa: Deputy Board Member of Voices for Sudan explains the importance of engaging the Diaspora, and the added value that the Diaspora can provide to the both the conflicts in Sudan, and South Sudan.
The engagement of the Diaspora, the bridging of the gap between those living in the states and those living back home, and the uniting under a common goal are the objectives we hope to achieve through our programs. We would like to thank NED for co-hosting the event and hope to continue hosing events such as this one in the future.