A book written by Army’s Captain Stephanie Palfrey-Sneddon is being sold to raise money to support the education of 900 children in South Sudan.
Captain Palfrey-Sneddon is deployed on Operation Aslan supporting the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
All funds raised through the sale of Young Voices of South Sudan will be donated to the Queens Nursery and Primary School, and the Exodus International Academy, in the weapons-free zone.
“There has been an ongoing relationship between these two community schools and UNMISS,” Captain Palfrey–Sneddon said.
“As the liaison officer to the schools, I wanted to be able to maintain the relationship while also raising money to support the schools once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
“The idea for the book came from a need to remain socially distant while capturing some of the inspiring stories I had witnessed.”
Captain Palfrey-Sneddon interviewed children from the schools.
“We spoke about things like what they would ask for if they could have one wish and what they thought was the most important thing in life,” she said.
“There were a few common themes that came out in their answers: the importance of family, the power of love, and football.”
The current COVID-19 pandemic has added a new uncertainly for the children on top of the threat of malaria, yellow fever, civil war and humanitarian rights violations.
More than a quarter of the children are either orphans or come from a single-parent family
“The majority of the school buildings are made of mud brick walls, which wash away during heavy rains,” Captain Palfrey-Sneddon said.
“There are no doors and windows, and there is a high crime rate in the area.
“The majority of students also have additional responsibilities in helping to raise their younger siblings, and some are survivors of gender-based violence.
“My wish for the book is that it will serve as a reminder of the power of hope, no matter the circumstances.”
Captain Palfrey–Sneddon said while the project was voluntary and not part of official UN duties, members deployed to UNMISS were encouraged to find ways to support locals.
“UNMISS was consulted at all stages of the project,” she said.
“While they do not endorse any fundraisers due to their need to be impartial, they encourage peacekeepers to support the local community.”
Captain Palfrey-Sneddon will use the money raised by sales of the book to fund school supplies and pay school fees.
“Aside from the chance of an education they may not otherwise have access to, I hope it inspires the students to continue striving to reach their goals with the same ambition and positivity they had when they shared with me their dreams for the future,” Captain Palfrey-Sneddon said.
You can buy the book and make donations at the website youngvoicesoftheworld.com, through the Facebook page Young Voices of South Sudan and via Instagram @youngvoicesofsouthsudan