art of resistance, South Sudan, Sudan

To Be A Poet: Story Of A Refugee.

i-d-activist-of-tomorrow-abe-nouk-to-perform-at-sydney-opera-house-1444199564/Abe Nouk, photo © Ben Thomson/

Abraham (Abe) Nouk is a poet, MC and author. He came to Australia as an illiterate Sudanese refugee and has become an award-winning spoken word artist and poet. His family arrived to Australia in 2004, as UN High Commission designated refugees. He taught himself how to read and write English in just three years after arriving to Australia.

He is now also a founder and director of Collingwood youth arts space, Creative Rebellion Youth. About the importance of art he says: “I think only art can save us in these times of conflict and political misunderstanding. Art is the only focus that might keep us from destroying the world – it’s an avenue for social change – once people get busy with art everything else falls into place.”

There is a short new documentary about Abe, called To be a poet: A Story of a Refugee. See it and listen to his wisdom, his ways of love and togetherness. Remember it in these times of refugee(s).

This is not a play

This is life

And some of us just want to live

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South Sudan, Sudan

Dinka: The Legendary Cattle Keepers of Sudan.

Thirty years of work on the African continent have carried Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher across 270,000 miles and through remote corners of 40 countries in exploration of more than 150 African cultures. In the process, this team of world-renowned photographers has produced fourteen widely acclaimed books and made four films about traditional Africa. They have been granted unprecedented access to African tribal rites and rituals and continue to be honored worldwide for their powerful photographs documenting the traditional ceremonies of cultures thousands of years old.

The Beckwith-Fisher images are the result of a long, enduring and deeply respectful relationship with African tribal peoples. This, combined with their photographic skills, creates an intimate portrayal of ceremonies long held secret that might have never been recorded. Their work preserves and presents the power, complexity and celebration found within the rituals of African tribal life.

“Through our books and lectures we tell people about Africa’s core values: respect for their elders, the benefit of growing up as part of a community, and the importance of living in harmony with nature and one’s own spirit world.”

Their book  Dinka: Legendary Cattle Keepers of Sudan, was the fruit of a 30-year study documenting the vanishing people in war-torn Sudan. It is a window into the past, present, and future of an extraordinary egalitarian pastoral people, and arguably the greatest cattle keepers of the African continent.  It is a true celebration of one culture.

Here are some of the incredible images.

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l_BF084DI_1228349357all photos © Carol Beckwith & Angela Fisher

For more of their amazing work and more on this book, go to Carol Beckwith & Angela Fisher official website.

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art of resistance, Iraq, Israeli - Palestinian conflict, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria

The world(s) of refugee(s).

Yesterday was World Refugee Day. Observed on 20th of June every year, it is dedicated to raising awareness of the situation of refugees throughout the world. There are over 44 million refugees and internally displaced people around the world at the moment.

Refugees stories should be more present in media all the time, not just on this day. However – it is good to have them in the headlines and in focus atleast one day of the year.

I’ve assembled some photos, searched my way through great Magnum‘s collections, so here are refugee stories from all over the world, captured by Magnum’s photographers.

LON141140KENYA. Kakuma. Residents from Kakuma Refugee Camp watch evening screenings in the camp set up by FilmAid. 2012 (© Olivia Arthur/Magnum)

PAR447870LEBANON. Saida, 2013. Ein El Helwe palestinian refugee camp. Since 2012 Premiere Urgence NGO has built new infrastructures for drinking water and sewage in Hai El Sahon area. The camp is divided in 15 sectors. Each one is leaded by a popular comitee. Abu Icham at home with his family. (© Jerome Sessini/Magnum)

mijanmarMYANMAR. 2014. SITTWE. Rakhine State. Local area where a number of camps have been set up for the Internally Displaced People – all Muslim, who were attacked by the local Arakan people who do not want them living in Myanmar. These are Muslim children from the host Muslim population where the IDP’s have been put in camps. Fishing for small fish in a pond. (© Chris Steele-Perkins/ Magnum)

NYC144348CONGO. Dungu, Haut-Uele District. April 11, 2013. Father Benoit Kinalegu runs an orphanage for child victims of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). These drawings were made by the child victims of the LRA. Haut-Uele District, located in Orientale Province, is one of the areas in which the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) operates. (© Michael Christopher Brown/ Magnum)

NYC136190LEBANON. Bar-elias, Bekaa Valley, 2013. A young Syrian refugee stands behind barbwire at a small lake next to a spring where refugees collect drinking water on the outskirts of the Al-Jarrah tent settlement in the Bekaa Valley. (© Moises Saman/ Magnum)

NYC149729NORWAY. Vesteraalen. 2012. Melbu school yard. Some levels in the school have more than 50% immigrant children. In Melbu, about 200 of the town’s 2000 inhabitants are asylum seekers. In addition about 200 are permanently settled refugees. (© Jonas Bendiksen/ Magnum)

michael cristopherCENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC. BANGUI. March 21, 2014. At the M’Poko IDP camp, a mostly Christian camp located at the Bangui International Airport, children play on the runway. Anti-Balaka fighters mingle freely with the civilians there. (© Michael Christopher Brown/ Magnum)

NYC135138GERMANY,  2013. A painting in the home of Ashgar Hassanzadeh, 34, an Afghan refugee who had three fingers chopped off and 22 bones broken by Taliban threatening him for working with coalition forces. He fled with his family to Europe and was detained in Bavaria. They are now in a refugee camp in Wurzburg, Bavaria. It is the largest camp in Bavaria and refugees usually spend years there before their status is resolved and they are granted residency, or they are deported back to their home country. The refugees are housed in a barracks from the Nazi era and receive a small subsidy from the German government. There is widespread frustration and depression in the camp, including a recent suicide by an Iranian refugee and a hunger strike by another group. (© Peter van Agtmael/ Magnum)

PAR415257Somalia, Mogadishu, 2012. A young girl sweeps infront of her tent inside a over populated internally displaced camp in Mogadishu. Many IDP’s have fled into Mogadishu since it has become more safe after the African Union troops along side the Transitional Government Forces have managed to push Al-Shabaab out of the city. (© Dominic Nahr/ Magnum)

NYC136217JORDAN. Amman. June 12, 2013. Syrian refugee children living in a rented apartment in the Wadi Haddad district of East Amman. (© Moises Saman/ Magnum)

LON155227Jordan. 2013. Zaatari Refugee camp. Children drawing. One image by a 6 year old boy depicts a man being hanged. (© Stuart Franklin/ Magnum)

NYC141670IRAQ. Dohuk, Iraqi Kurdistan. July 29, 2013. Young Syrian refugees atop the rubble of a former Iraqi Army barracks next to the Domiz camp for Syrian refugees on the outskirts of Dohuk. (© Moises Saman/ Magnum)

And here’s a little bit more  -this is an excerpt from Brothers in hope: The story of the Lost Boys of Sudan, written by Mary Williams, and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. It is a children’s book describing a story of a young boy who unites with thousands of other orphaned boys to walk to safety in a refugee camp in another country (first in Ethiopia, then in Kenya), after war destroys their villages in southern Sudan.

“When I turned eight years old, I began to tend some small calves on my own. I cleaned them, nursed them when they were sick, and led them to the very best pastures and watering holes. I quickly grew to love these animals. Then one day everything in my life changed. “

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“Before war came, I had never seen so many people in one place. My village had only one hundred people. Now I was in a moving village with thousands of boys.  Like me, the other boys were away from their villages tending the cattle when war came.”

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I’ve said it already – refugee stories are to be shared and retold, so here are the excerpts from one more beautiful  book – The Lotus Seed  by Sherry Garland, illustrated by Tatsuro Kiuchi. It’s a story of a girl’s grandmother and the special significance of the lotus seed she carried with her when she escaped from Vietnam and made her way to a new country.

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“Nothing that grows in a pond

Surpasses the beauty of the lotus flower,

With its green leaves and silky yellow styles

Amidst milky white petals.

Though mired in mud, its silky yellow styles,

Its milky white petals and green leaves 

Do not smell of mud.”

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art of resistance, South Sudan

Child survival in South Sudan.

Three years ago there was jubilation across South Sudan as it finally became an independent country. The third anniversary of independence is almost here (9th of July) and all that excitement has been dampened by a growing realization of the enormous challenges facing the world’s youngest country. South Sudan remains one of the hardest places in the world to be a child; conflict, displacement, food shortages, natural disasters and a severe lack of access to even the most basic of services all interweave to threaten children’s survival. But with the highest rate of maternal deaths in the world, the fight for children’s survival in this harshest of contexts begins even before birth.

These are the photos from the photo essay The Child Survival in South Sudan.

00250489-fe29d4cf5a104c3a5888f1b2454691b9-w600Regina uses beads and a stopwatch to the count four-year-old Lochebe’s breaths. This is a simple technique that helps women like Regina, who are illiterate and innumerate, to spot warning signs in children. Moving one bead with every breath the child takes, if she is left with a red bead at the end of one minute she knows that the child is breathing too rapidly and needs immediate medical attention.

00250490-cabbdb82c6567e7d3c23ca3eb9c36ed4-w600A year and a half later, Tereza has benefitted from Save the Children Cash for Work programme that provided her with monthly cash payments in exchange for her work on community improvement efforts. Tereza was able to invest some of her money in livestock and use the rest to buy food and medicine for her family. Here she is purchasing medicine for her daughter Sarah who has been suffering from malaria.

00250492-ee360e744b5642e77dbf5a379cfd72f0-w600Regina, 45, diagnoses four year old Lochebe with pneumonia in Kapoeta North, South Sudan. Regina is a Community Based Distributor trained by Save the Children to diagnose and treat the three main killers of children in South Sudan; malaria, diarrhoea and pneumonia. Before women like Regina were trained to provide this vital service, mothers would have to walk for many hours to the nearest health clinic when their children were ill and many died on the way.

00250493-cf690c91c269cc4ad34c45bf0b7bbda6-w600Three years later, Alice holds Malisi, now three years old, who is healthy after receiving regular health care at the clinic set up by Save the Children. In South Sudan there is a one in eight chance that a child will die before their fifth birthday, often as a result of easily preventable and treatable illnesses such as malaria, diarrhoea and pneumonia.

00250494-ff287e73f66dd0ad56a664fb49868ff0-w600Mother Nyayalny walked for two hours with her sons Pagak, 3, and Duolduet, 6 months, to the Primary Health Care Unit supported by Save the Children in Upper Nile state, South Sudan, because Pagak has been suffering from a fever and diarrhoea. Nyaylny also had two older children but when they fell ill with diarrhoea there was no health clinic she could take them to. She said, “When my older children fell sick there was nothing I could do and both of them died.” With only half of the population of South Sudan having access to clean water and 80% having no access to toilets, diarrhoea is a serious problem that often proves deadly for children.

(all photos ©Colin Crowley/Save the Children)

For more of this story and stories like this, go to AllAFrica  and Save the Children.

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art of resistance, South Sudan

Remembering Camille Lepage: Vanishing Youth (South Sudan).

Camille Lepage,  26-year-old French photojournalist who had spent months documenting deadly conflict in Central African Republic has been killed, the French presidency said this week. She was a freelance photographer whose work was published in major French and American newspapers. But talking about her and her essence – she was courage and a spark – of hope, compassion, love.

Lepage worked in South Sudan before moving to Central African Republic. In an interview with the photography blog PetaPixel, she said she was drawn to covering forgotten conflicts.

“I want the viewers to feel what the people are going through. I’d like them to empathize with them as human beings, rather than seeing them as another bunch of Africans suffering from war somewhere in this dark continent,” she said. “I wish they think: `Why on Earth are those people in living hell; why don’t we know about it and why is no one doing anything?’ I would like the viewers to be ashamed of their government for knowing about it without doing anything to make it end.”

Today, with this sad news, I wish to post a part of her photo essay from South Sudan – Vanishing Youth (she, in a way – dying at the age 0f 26, belongs to that vanished youth now too). Still, her life had a meaning, a huge one, and I post this to keep her mission alive. Thank you for all your efforts, Camille.

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psldall images © Camille Lepage

To see more of Lepage’s work, visit her website.

Keep her alive by respecting her work, sharing it and – acting on it.

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