Kenyans in South Sudan Welfare Association (Kisswa), was formed in May 2005 following a resolution of a meeting held by a group of Kenyans at Tore, Yei River County.
From left are Kisswa board chairman Jackson ole Sinket, Odhiambo Onyango (treasurer), Willy Chepkwony (board member) and Justus Otwani (secretary) in Yei South Sudan. They are all attached to various engineering companies that are building roads in the vast region.
This followed the realisation that many Kenyans in South Sudan were faced with numerous social, cultural and economic problems, which were difficult to resolve in their individual capacities due to lack of adequate information and resources and particularly the socio cultural and economic disparities between the Kenyan and Sudanese environments.
It was also noted that there was no Kenyan government representation in South Sudan in-spite of the disconnect between the Khartoum government in the North and the SPLM government in the South. There was therefore no means by which the Kenyan government could know about the number, location, activities and problems facing Kenyans in the South; a region whose land area is bigger than Kenya and Uganda combined with extremely inferior infra-structural facilities.
It therefore became crystal clear that a united front was essential to facilitate resolution of pertinent welfare issues. Kisswa was formed as the forum through which Kenyans in various parts of South Sudan could interact, share their experiences and generally enjoy the benefits of firsthand information about the social, cultural and economic environment in their respective stations in order to facilitate peaceful co-existence with the local communities.
This information would also be made available to Kenyans intending to work or invest in various parts of South Sudan. The Kisswa secretariat is in Yei town, Yei river county, Western Nile region some 80km from the Sudan/Uganda border town of Kaya. All Kenyan citizens and corporates in South Sudan are eligible members and are encouraged to register. Kisswa also welcomes all individual and corporate sponsors outside South Sudan especially those with prospective investment interests in this region. The association is in the process of establishing a website.
The objectives of the association are:-
1) To promote the existing good relationship between the Kenyans in South Sudan and the Sudanese people.
2) To proactively contribute to the opening up and development of South Sudan by encouraging investment and participating in the development of infrastructure and other requisite social amenities.
3) To provide a forum through which Kenyans in South Sudan, the Kenyan government and the government of South Sudan, including respective local authorities can be informed of the individual presence, location and activities of all Kenyans working in all parts of South Sudan.
4) To promote unity and harmony among Kenyans in South Sudan with a view to collectively resolving pertinent welfare issues.
5) To promote social and cultural harmony between Kenyans and Sudanese people by facilitating sensitisation of Kenyans about social values and cultural practices of the people of South Sudan.
6) To represent the interests of Kenyans in South Sudan to the Kenyan government and the government of South Sudan including respective local authorities.
7) To act as an information center for Kenyans who are interested in investing in South Sudan.
The association was inaugurated on Sunday, August 28, 2005, at a ceremony held at the Crop Training Centre (CTC). The ceremony was attended by over 30 Kenyan professionals working in various companies and non-governmental organisations operating in various parts of South Sudan. This association brings together Kenyans of diverse professions and disciplines that are working together with Sudanese nationals to propel the country to a greater height of development.
The forum would also be used to promote social and cultural harmony between Kenyans and Sudanese people by facilitating sensitisation of Kenyans on social values and cultural practices of the people of South Sudan. The formation of Kisswa will help to keep contact and track of Kenyans in South Sudan with people back in Kenya. It will therefore be possible to know about the number, location, activity and problems facing Kenyans in South Sudan.