July 9th, 2011 South Sudan became its own independent nation. Almost a year later, I had the privilege of partnering with World Relief by documenting the work they are doing in South Sudan. Independence and the building of a new country is something to be celebrated, although it has not been any easy road. There are still clashes along the border of Sudan and South Sudan. These clashes have created a volatile atmosphere for the Southern Sudanese. Many people have been displaced and live in fear of rebel forces, land mines, and air strikes. Besides aspects of war, they also deal with many challenges daily. These hardships include lack of food & water, health-care, nutrition, and education. World Relief has placed a team of nationals in South Sudan to set up projects giving aid to these specific challenges.
The following photos will allow you to step into the journey I took last month. You will see photos of the brave mothers who have cared for and nursed their malnourished children back to health, photos of a school where the children sit in the dirt beneath acacia trees because they have no building, chairs, or supplies...and photos of a bush clinic where patience travel for miles and miles because most hospitals in the area have shut down since the clashes began.
The stories of these men, women, and children are incredible. They are courageous. Not because of the difficulties they have endured, but because they have chosen joy despite the difficulties. I spent 11 days on the soil of South Sudan and that's all it took to leave a little shaken. I can't pretend that I know what it is like to live with the hardships, but I know that my life is challenged by the hope they've found. So, please don't look at these photos and feel pity. Take time with them, allow them to move you, and to make you feel uncomfortable...but don't stay there. See what they see: hope.
(You can see some more of my work and read more about South Sudan on The Huffington Post by clicking here)
I've never seen eyes like this in all my time spent in Africa
These are some of the women who's children are going through World Relief's Nutrition Program
This school has only 2 chalkboards that they share between classrooms, er...trees.