Meet Riya William
Meet the Muse: Riya William ~ Peace Educator, Disco Dancer, South Sudanese Human Rights Defender
Where do you live?
What three words best describe your country?
Insecurity, multi-culturalistic, Hopelessness.
What do you love about your country?
The richness in culture.
What issues does your country currently face?
1.Limited human rights e.g lack of freedom of expression.
2.Increased crime rate especially robberies.
3.High inequality especially tribal inequality, education inequality and discrimination against women and children.
4.Highest illiteracy rates in the world
Tell us about yourself.
What did you dream about when you were 8?
Going to school and seeing my dad because we had been separated as the result of the war.
What do you dream about now?
Seeing a free and peaceful South Sudan.
What matters most to you?
What is your greatest fear?
Living in the moment. Life is a journey we all take with different challenges.
What is your most marked characteristic?
My positive personality mainly of adaptability and compatibility which helps me to get along with others easily.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Accomplishing first my bachelors degree. Many girls in South Sudan haven’t got a chance to go to school. Only 16% of the women in South Sudan are educated and being one of them is a great achievement.
What do you want to be remembered for?
I want to be remembered for being a positive agent of change in peoples lives and for playing a role in creating a peaceful South Sudan.
If you had the world stage for one moment, what would your message be?
For sustainable peace to exist in the universe, we should start talking and teaching peace to children right from lower stages of life because children are a fertile ground for peace.
Tell us about your work as an Activist & Human Rights Defender:
Who are your HRD muses or role models/mentors?
Nelson Mandela who fought till the end without giving up. He didn’t care about losing anything but achieving his goal.
What is your definition of activism?
The act of involvement to bring about a change in the community. It can be a political, social, economical, or emotional change.
Why is activism important to you?
Activism is important to me because it initiates the change that I wish to see or dream of.
Why does the world need activists?
The world needs activists to bring about positive change. It can as well be negative change but I call it positive because I believe all activists’ initial thought is bringing change for others who can not speak for themselves as long as it makes the majority happy.
Do you have any advice for young activists?
The change that you wish to see starts with you. In other words live and practice it. For example if you want to see change in the country from insecurity to peace is start by being peaceful and practice peace yourself.
Personally am working on promoting peace through play with children and the community of South Sudan through our initiative that we started with other friends called PLAY FOR PEACE SOUTH SUDAN by moving from one school to another and one community to another promoting civic education through peace education and preaching about peace
In my organization, we are now working on providing emergency relief to the Internally Displaced persons (IDPS) in Eastern Equotoria.Our focus is on immediate supply of food and non food items to the IDPs plus providing livelihoods especially through agricultural improvements for personal sustainability and some for market to make them economically viable.
What is your “why” behind it?
The “why” behind it is to provide an opportunity to get the people back to a normal life after the disturbance of the war and to support them to sustain a reasonable level of living after realizing that our government can not do everything especially this with the communities.
What should people know about your work?
My work is a blessing. Only the responses I get from the people I touch like “thank you “is enough to keep me going.
However, the work I do is not as easy as people think. It needs a lot of courage and determination to be able to do it.
How can we support you and your work? Please share any links.
You can support me in so many ways but mainly through exposure that is help us tell the world about our work and what we are doing to change the current situation in South Sudan. You can follow our activities of what we do through our facebook page play for peace South Sudan and our organization website is www.mundrireliefanddevelopment.org.
Share your inspiration with us:
When and where are you most inspired?
I am inspired whenever I meet the people in the communities I outreach to or run into them in market places, even when I cant remember their faces but they stop me and say “thank you”and even the children I play with calling me “teacher”and sing out the songs I teach them. That alone makes me happy and inspires me to work harder even when thoughts of giving up come to my mind because I feel they appreciate the little am doing for them.
If you could inspire one change in yourself, what would it be?
I would inspire myself to be peaceful at heart first before thinking of talking about peace to others.
If you could inspire one change in the world, what would it be?
A peaceful world.
Where do you look for inspiration in your daily life?
In listening to motivational music and quotes like “LIFE IS NOT DYNAMIC”things always change and are going to be better.
Talking to friends who have made it in life or even reading about them.
Who inspires you?
The people who have made it mainly the activists like Nelson Mandela, the Nobel Peace Laurates I met while in Canada, my father, my uncle, my close friends and my partner.
Want to share a quote or a poem or a song lyric that inspires you?
“IN LIFE, THERE’S A TIME WHEN ONE GETS STUCK, BUT STEP BACK AND PICK UP, BUT NEVER GIVE UP. IF YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ARE ABOUT TO GIVE UP, TALK ABOUT IT WITH GOD.”
I also got this of recent from a friend who I now call sister from another mother called Ashley when I went for the sister to sister mentorship progam in Ottawa
“Your disco needs you. Get on the dance floor and dance to the tunes.”
So many times I have reached the point of saying enough is enough and I wanted to give up on everything, but then I have realize my disco is full of amazing tunes like my family, people of South Sudan,friends and if I give up then no one can dance my strokes better than me,so am inspired to push on harder and stronger.
Thank you for the inspiration. xo, muse
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