Reading Todd’s submission for an Aftermath Project grant reminded us that on some level all humans are in a race with death. Some of us secretly wish to cheat or outrun it. Others encounter circumstances that make them face it head on. Todd wrote that this realization draws him to the harrowing stories of former Lost Boys of Sudan and the dreams many have to return and rebuild. As Todd says, “Few of us have had reality turned upside down so suddenly, going from a safe and familiar life to one of survival, without protection, in an unforgiving landscape. Yet, something in their unique journey rings universal. So, I and many who know their journey want to know: what do they remember about the place left behind, what is there now, and what are they to do with memories? Repair and renewal is yeoman’s work.”
We are wishing Todd luck as he waits to hear by December if his proposal will be accepted. No doubt, in his capable and caring hands, his camera can do much to build bridges of understanding.
Todd teaches Palestinian woman about photography
By Patricia Shafer
I’ve known Bol for about two years now, but this past Sunday was the first chance I’ve had to hear him speak about in a public setting about his experience as a southern Sudanese refugee. Education Program Manager Elizabeth Peacock and I made a detour on our drive from Charlotte, NC, to Washington, DC and Baltimore, to hear him speak. We sat in the front row with his mother Adout. I was reminded that even though he has been in the U.S. for 12 years now, and the story of young men affected by the past civil war in Sudan has been told many times, every story is unique and every telling is fresh depending on who is listening. In one PowerPoint slide, Bol shared the only photo his family has of time spent in a refugee camp in Egypt. He described a nearby church that in many ways and on many days felt like the only safe harbor in life’s storm. He acknowledged his mother for raising her children and guiding them well in the United States even though she arrived not knowing how to speak English or read and write her name – reality for most women who come into adulthood during war and the aftermath of fleeing it. He beamed with obvious pride at the slide that shows him being commissioned for his entry as an officer in the US Army, a role he officially takes up this January 2014. I’ve been told that southern Sudanese culture places a high value on someone’s story, and it’s important that when someone starts to tell their’s you give them the room to start and finish. I look forward to hearing more about Bol’s.