It's 6:28 p.m. here in Juba, and I've spent this afternoon going through video I took while in Lietnhom just four and five days ago. While listening to the voices of entrepreneurs who have small shops in the market, local government leaders, a local leader of the Mothers' Union, the chairlady of the village bank and others I come away with two recurring themes: reconciliation and stability.
Just one year ago, there was a tribal clash in Lietnhom and the village was burned. Almost completely. But, because the bank is both a concrete structure and has members of both tribes as investors of the bank, it was left untouched. This truth was retold many times during my stay.
One businessman, Deng, had a small shop in the market prior to the clash. When the market burned so did his shop leaving him with virtually nothing. Both his inventory and his monetary savings were in the grass-roofed shop. He estimates his losses were about $2,500. But, he decided to rebuild and start again. Deng said he was only able to do this by selling a goat and taking out a small loan ($75). Now, one year later, he says his business has grown larger than what it was prior to burning.
Because almost the entire village is made of grass-roofed, mud huts, it is an easy target for destruction. For so many their hope is to have a concrete building -- a structure that will withstand clashes, which sadly seem to happen on a somewhat frequent basis. Now, with a new concrete building bank, men and women from Lietnhom and the surrounding areas have a safe place to save their money. If there home/business is burned, they won't lose paper money that was saved under a mattress.
The bank is named "Amat Wuot Community Bank" which means "a union of communities." As Lueth Maluac, senior inspector and county planning officer stated, "It's a bank for all. It has no borders."