IDP Models, South Sudan

A single image, once viewed, has irrevocable powers. Whether positive or negative, whatever is portrayed in the four-edged frame will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression.

As with most other art forms, a photo is interpreted based on the preconceived notions, philosophies, experiences, and ideologies of the individual viewer. Additionally, that very same photo is framed by the preconceived notions, philosophies, experiences, and ideologies of the photographer.

A photo can be captured with the intention to portray a feeling of hope and interpreted to mean disparity and desolation.

A single photo has the ability to personally connect to an endless number of people on an endless number of levels.

While working for World Concern in 4 IDP sites in Warrap State, South Sudan, I found myself frequently dumbfounded by the jaw-dropping beauty of the women. Of course, we all know that South Sudanese women tend to err on the side of gorgeous; what floored me was that they managed to remain equally beautiful while living in very basic, if not dire, conditions.

The juxtaposition of the following photos is just further evidence that beauty can exist even in dire circumstances.

photos ©World Concern

Somaliland

Somaliland is situated on the eastern horn of Africa, and is roughly the size of England and Wales.  The region has a monsoon type climate, with a distinct rainy spring season (floods are common), and dry summers (droughts are common).

Although the self-declared state of Somaliland is home to a relatively stable society and functioning democracy,  there is still great need. An extreme climates, lack of infrastructure, high illiteracy rates, and poor education systems define the majority of the state's rural, pastoral communities.

The following photos were taken for World Concern, an NGO who has been working for over 30 years to empower communities across Somaliland.

photos ©World Concern

Chad

A landlocked country – neighbors with Libya to the north, Sudan to the east, Central African Republic to the south, Niger to the west, and Cameroon and Nigeria to the southwest.

Due to its snug position surrounded by multiple conflict-ridden regions, and its voluminous land mass (slightly larger than three times the state of California), some refer to Chad as a “large dumping pot for refugees, IDPs, and immigrants.

These photos were taken for World Concern in the Sila region, located in eastern Chad. This region hosts a high concentration of refugees, returnees, IDPs, and indigenous at-risk communities. Outside of the IDP camps, the vast majority of people in live without access to clean, or as the locals would say, ‘potable’, water. Additionally, the region is lacking in schools and hospitals. The location, its lack of resources, and the acute poverty combined make the people living in Sila a susceptible target to the Janjaweed and other local militant groups.

As reported by the Human Rights Watch, originally supported and provided with arms by Chadian militant leaders, the Janjaweed have been laying waste to eastern Chad since 2004. They are brutal, unpredictable, and (to anyone without firearms – meaning most everyone in these rural villages) unstoppable. In their presence, the villagers are defenceless – facing no other option but to run for the bush or courageously fight by hand (in most cases the outcome of such has not been positive).

photos ©World Concern