Their Most Valued Possession
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.
60 year old Omar managed to rescue this axe which he has used to chop firewood and to build makeshift shelters for his family.
Magboola, 20, was able to salvage this cooking pot she uses to cook sorghum.
Al Haj, 27 saved this whip which he uses herd his 50 goats.
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.”
Dowla, 22, carried this wooden pole and baskets, carrying d her six children during her journey from Gabanit to South Sudan.
Ahmed, 10 with his pet monkey Kako. They made the ten day journey from Taga to the South Sudanese border a truck.
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.”
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.
Haja, 55, was only able to bring with her a patterned shawl, called a taupe, which she used to carry her granddaughter, Bal Gaze.