Diversity brings us together

At IsraAID, we have the privilege of working with and getting to know so many diverse communities. At IsraAID Uganda, recognizing and supporting diversity is a key element of our work. Within the South Sudanese refugee community in Uganda, dozens of different tribes are represented. Each one has their own cultural heritage, dance, customs, and even language.

This week, IsraAID Uganda organized a special event to honor and support the huge range of diversity within the community. The Community Cultural Gala for South Sudanese refugees in Palorinya Refugee Settlement aimed to build resilience among community members, create relationships among different tribes, and provide an opportunity for children to showcase their talents with pride.

On the day of the event, the Luwakoke Child Friendly space, where IsraAID conducts activities for local children, was filled with electrifying energy as different tribes came together in a space of shared expression.

A cultural gala is a dynamic and impactful event that serves as a catalyst for fostering a sense of unity and harmony within a community. Specifically, the Community Cultural Gala 2023 brought together different South Sudanese communities in an environment where diversity took center stage.

To kick off the event, cultural groups representing various tribes showcased their tribal pride through a spectacular presentation of their respective dances, including children in their own dances.

Secondary school student Neima Yukuwe led the children’s group presentation and expressed her desire to become a nurse in the future. “To me the cultural gala is a symbol of unity, reminding me of how elders back home talk to us. It helps me remember where I come from. As a girl, I want to be a good person in the future by ensuring that I go to school and achieve my goal of being a nurse. I would love to thank IsraAID for this event since it ensures that our voices are heard as children and students.”

The ambiance was vibrant as cultural groups presented the splendor and variety of South Sudanese’s cultural heritage, while simultaneously honoring their own unique identities, traditions, and experiences.

Justine Adaba, a Keliko tribe member and community leader, said, “I understand that a cultural gala brings different communities to come and dance their traditions. This brings peace among us in the Palorinya settlement.  In the song that my group performed, we sang about the hunger we are facing right as food rations were reduced. The song advises families to remain together and be resilient through hardships. In our country South Sudan, there is no peace yet. Let’s stay until there is peace, and we shall return in peace.”

The event served as a compelling reminder of the significance of cultural exchange and the crucial role that plays in promoting a deeper understanding and respect for the various cultures that make up their global community. This celebration of diversity showcased the power of unity and emphasized the importance of recognizing and appreciating the richness of their differences.

Lohisa Godfrey Antony, a 32-year-old father of six, spoke about his experience as a member of the Lango community and the hope he has for his children: “I was married off early at 14 years when I lost my father as no one could take care of me. I came here as a refugee after the 2016 war to get a better life for my children as I did not want them to go through the same thing. For the Lango community, this cultural gala helps our young ones know their tradition and tell other cultures that we are also here.”


Sharon Muzaki is IsraAID Uganda’s Communications Volunteer