"We are rebuilding more than just our lives. We are relearning how to believe in hope again," a quote from a Sudanese man in a recent article about Sudan since the referendum as many refugees return home--to a place haunted by images and memories of unspeakable horrors. In the wake of national and political change, the recovery process for these resilient people cannot be forgotten. Another quote from the same man: "Right here, in this very place, is where many bodies were buried after the rebels came through and attacked. Bodies under our feet. It is a constant reminder to us about our past.” I have the unique opportunity and honor to be at the ground-breaking of one of the first schools to be built in post-referendum South Sudan. Education the shinning hope of these people; their persevering belief in education has inspired many, including the Clinton administration that created a program for as many as 3,500 Sudanese refugee boys to study in the US--The Lost Boys of Sudan, the term given this unique group. The building of this school holds so much power and meaning in the future of these people; it is a stake in the ground of their country. Conscious of memories filled with images of atrocities, I want to empower these people to capture, from their perspective, the hope of their future, symbolized in this school. Each Sudanese participant will receive a camera and basic photography lessons, and then they will be asked to merely document what they understand to be important about this story--the images they want to remember; images that will hopefully someday overcome and heal the darkness in their memories.
Jalle, Southern Sudan; a remote area devastated by civil war for decades. Now that war is over and a people long displaced are returning home to a country that will finally and for the first time, be their own. One of those people is Michael Kuany. Michael once lived in this region of Jalle until he was forced to flee at age 6 as his village was ransacked during the civil war. For the next 20 years of his life he lived as a refugee in Ethiopia and Kenya, traversing hundreds of miles and often forced to flirt with death. Despite his perilous and often destitute journey, Michael maintained hope in the future; a hope rooted deep in his belief of education. This relentless belief brought him eventually to the united states where he earned both a undergraduate and graduate degree, all with one aim in mind: to return to his people with the hope of education. Today his vision is finally being realized: a school is to be built near his village in Jalle. His dream (and the dream of his people) is becoming a reality.
The Project: "Through Their Eyes"
Since the first time I heard Michael speak I was captivated by his story. Now I am traveling to Southern Sudan to document the building of the Jalle School, one of the first schools being built since the Referendum in January. As I prepared for this trip I began thinking about the local people there in Jalle and I decided I really wanted to give them an opportunity to document this important moment for themselves. The idea was conceived out of a desire that my documentation wouldn't just have my perspective, but be a collaboration of my work and the work of the participants in this project. In addition, I am creating a short documentary film on the experience of this project; how the participants respond to this experiment and being able to capture images.
I am really passionate about this project and the opportunity it will provide for myself and others to learn and understand the perspective of the Jalle people. And I want to give an opportunity to participate in the project as well, and receive some of the images produced by this experiment. The funds I am raising here on Kickstarter will go towards equipment for the participants--cameras and film--and equipment for the short documentary.
How Kickstarter Works:
You pledge whatever amount suits you and once the project is fully funded the monies will go towards the project and you get to wait in great anticipation for your reward. HOWEVER, if I don't reach my full goal amount I won't receive any of the money and you won't get your cool reward. So, spread the word and help me make this project a reality! THANK YOU for taking time to read and listen about my project! People like you are making artistic projects more than just an idea.
To follow the project before, during and after the trip, visit here:
To learn more about Rebuild Sudan, visit here:
- (25 days)