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Their Most Valued Possession

Brian-Sokol

10 year old Maria holds onto her plastic jug she uses for storing water at the Jamam refugee camp in Maban County, South Sudan.

Photojournalist Brian Sokol was on assignment with the United Nations High Commission for Refugess, or UNHCR, when he got the idea for this project. He asked the people in the camps what their most valuable possession was that they were able to save when they were pushed out of their homes by war and famine.

He calls this photographic project The Most Important Thing

The UN Refugee Agency explains: “More than 105,000 refugees have crossed the border between Sudan’s Blue Nile state and South Sudan’s Upper Nile state since November, 2011.The thousands of refugees are forced to leave their homes, often at a moment’s notice, and travel by foot through treacherous circumstances, sometimes for weeks at a time without food and while suffering great illness.”

It certainly puts the angst of losing your iphone in perspective.

Brian-Sokol

60 year old Omar managed to rescue this axe which he has used to chop firewood and to build makeshift shelters for his family.

Brian-Sokol

Magboola, 20, was able to salvage this cooking pot she uses to cook sorghum.

Brian-Sokol

Al Haj, 27 saved this whip which he uses herd his 50 goats.

Brian-Sokol

Shari, 75 saved the stick she holds. “I’ve had this stick since I went blind six years ago,” she said. “My son (Osman, 40) led me along the road with it. Without it, I would be dead now.”

Brian-Sokol

Dowla, 22, carried this wooden pole and baskets, carrying d her six children during her journey from Gabanit to South Sudan.

Brian-Sokol

Ahmed, 10 with his pet monkey Kako. They made the ten day journey from Taga to the South Sudanese border a truck.

Brian-Sokol

Torjam holds the plastic bottles. One carried drinking water, the other cooking oil. “All I could carry was this, and an axe. We couldn’t bring much, and even had to leave some other old people behind.”

Brian-Sokol

Hasan shows off the empty wallet. When he started out with his family toward the refugee camp he had to spend all his money to survive the trip.

Brian-Sokol

Haja, 55, was only able to bring with her a patterned shawl, called a taupe, which she used to carry her granddaughter, Bal Gaze.

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