Voices of Peace: Leading With Hope in South Sudan

“Most of us South Sudanese have never known peace,” says Riya Yuyuda, during her presentation at the first ever TEDx event at a refugee camp on June 9, 2018. As the co-founder of Play for Peace in South Sudan, Riya spoke passionately about her work at the Kakuma refugee camp in northwest Kenya, which currently hosts 185,000 refugees from many African countries, among them South Sudan, her home country. The event gave a voice to refugee leaders who are shaping the world with their passion and leadership despite what they’ve been through—having to leave their home countries due to war and destruction.

Riya’s encounter with war started when she was a couple months old. South Sudan, the youngest nation in the world, was war torn after years of fighting for independence from Sudan. They were successful when Riya was 11. But the same day South Sudan won its independence and people celebrated on the streets, South Sudanese tribes began violently fighting one another, forcing many families to flee the country.

After fleeing South Sudan, Riya grew up in a refugee camp in Uganda, however, her longing for home was strong. She returned to South Sudan in 2014 to work for peace —and for hope. She founded an organization for South Sudanese women and children, and later cofounded Play for Peace in South Sudan after experiencing a cooperative training.

After the training she said, “The best way to bring everlasting peace in this world is to invest in children, invest in peace education, ‘cause I believe children are very good investments. And if we plant a seed of peace in young children, it will be very easy to activate peace. So when I went for Play for Peace training, I felt like South Sudan is a fertile ground to plant a seed of peace, and we should really take this initiative.” Watch Riya’s TEDx speech—her powerful story will inspire you.