Here in South Sudan, it’s tough to document our work. It’s illegal to take photos of government buildings and employees, and where it’s not illegal, it’s unlikely that the flash of a camera would be welcome.
For an amateur point-and-shoot photographer like me, these are tough rules to follow. It is a country with picturesque plains and jagged mountains. The cities and towns are full of bright cloth on beautiful people, adorable children everywhere and a buzz that you have to be here to fully appreciate. Life happens out in the open, begging to be documented.
But South Sudan is also photo-worthy for other reasons. On the 200km drive yesterday from Nimule to Juba, we rarely covered more than 10 or 15 kilometers without seeing a car, van or truck burned out or overturned. I only needed to see one of those to be glad we had an experienced local staff driver named Taban. He was born and lives in Eastern Equatoria – one of South Sudan’s ten states – and he knows every twist, turn, bump and trouble spot to look out for.
The good and the bad are always on display here, literally side-by-side. At a graduation ceremony earlier this week we witnessed immense pride and celebration amongst the graduates and their families. These young people had completed our vocational courses, where they where taught trades like motor mechanics and hairdressing and could now get a job to support their families. But we also saw the effects of poverty and hunger on the children that gathered to watch. We made sure all of them were given food.
Tomorrow marks one week for me here in Juba. As you can probably tell it’s been quite a trip so far. I’m with our local South Sudanese team and our Deputy Director of International Programs, Nikki Whaites. We’ve also brought along a great photographer, Jeff, who is documenting our programs (with permission!), so we can share them with all of you – our supporters – who have helped make them possible. Just as importantly, I’m talking with young people that are participating in our programmes or have recently graduated, local staff, current and future partner organizations, and even government officials. The purpose being that you won’t have to hear from me again. Rather, you’ll hear and read about the impact of War Child’s work from the people of South Sudan themselves.