Five years ago on July 9, South Sudan became the world’s newest country.
Since then, in spite of the enormous excitement and hope with which the country was born, a civil war has claimed tens of thousands of lives and devastated the economy. In August 2015, a fragile peace deal began. It has held so far, though deep wounds remain.
What I realized early in the trip was that here everyone has lost someone.
One man told me about best friend since childhood.
“We liked to watch Tom and Jerry...He was killed. Crossfire.”
Another woman spoke of her daughter.
“I cry day and night because you are gone,” she says.
Loss is universal.
Yet, so is love.
Tensions remain high.
“Why always bullets?” a young man asked.
The conflict in South Sudan is often discussed in geopolitical terms, but we hope these portraits show another side.
Robert X. Fogarty
Caroline, an elderly woman from Peri, did not lose anyone from her family. She is blind and feels lost in the Mangaten camp for Juba's displaced people. She says that for her what is important is having God in her life.
I want to go back to my village where I have my family because right here in the camp I’m left alone. My husband passed away and I don’t have any children and it’s really painful for me to stay here.
I am the mother of seven and including the one who is inside right now. The hardest part is the living here in the camp. Because my husband is away and he doesn’t send the money… and here in the camp the little food we get is not enough so living here is very difficult for me.
Mary, from Marlei, fled Malakal to Mangaten camp in Juba when war broke out. She now takes care of 7 children in the camp, without the support of her husband who stayed behind. She complains that life in the site is difficult, and there is a general lack of food supplies. She wants to return home to Pibor but cannot because roads have been blocked.