teed: in waiting Portraits of [South] Sudan
Photographs by Tyler Paulson
dedication To the people of South Sudan窶田ongratulations on the birth of your new nation. May she be a light that shines across Africa for the glory of God.
â€œI met a people in the midst of transition and anticipation.â€?
After achieving their independence from Great Britain
I traveled to the mid-western region of South Sudan
in 1956, the people of South Sudan spent thirty-nine
in the summers of 2008 and 2010, working with
of the following fifty years in a war with the Sudanese
missionaries who operate a medical clinic and a training
government. In 2005, the two sides reached a peace
school for pastors. There I met a people in the midst
agreement, ending the war and giving South Sudan the
of transition and anticipation.
opportunity to vote for independence in 2011. Peace had allowed for new economic growth and new I was transfixed by the stories told of what the people
opportunities for education, and the town of Tonj where
were experiencing there. I believe in a God who is
I lived jumped in population from 10,000 to 30,000
redeeming humanity one life and one injustice at a timeâ€“
between my two visits; but I quickly realized that the scars
and I believed he had a place for me in Africa.
of a generation that had known only war were very deep.
“Many things broke my heart, but I also saw so much beauty. Together they forever changed the way I saw the world.”
So many things broke my heart, but I also saw so much
I’ve experienced why justice and compassion are worth
beauty during my time in Africa. Together they forever
fighting for, and have discovered that art is a powerful
changed the way I saw the world. The slower pace
weapon. It can extract one moment from inside of a
of life instilled in me a much greater appreciation for the
greater movement, and it can take a greater movement
simple joy of sharing life within a community of people.
and show it in one moment.
When I returned home, I took more time to sit, read, pray and listen–and realized that spending hours in front of a computer isn’t necessarily why I was created.
Often during initiation into adulthood, cuts are made on the skin and then filled, causing an infection that when healed, creates scars that protrude from the skin in a dramatic fashionâ€“the Dinka equivalent of tattoos.
Villager taking wood to market
Villager with traditional spear
Morning at a primary school built out of an old arms storage center. One of my favorite experiences was filling in as the P-8 instructor for a few days and getting to know the students.
Villager in front of a field where men pasture their goats. What is not seen is a gun turret pointed toward the field. A leftover from the civil war and too heavy to be moved by the locals, it stands as one of many everyday reminders of the war.
This sequence of images is from an early evening trip to Tonjâ€™s largest cattle camp. As the cattle come home for the evening, celebration, drumming and dance begin and the men compete in wrestling matches. Cattle, in addition to paper money, comprise the monetary system of Tonj. They are often used to pay for dowries and for long-term savings, making them a frequent catalyst for interpersonal conflict.
In late 2009, Donato was riding his bike home from town when he
Donato represents the future of South Sudan. Heâ€™s a hard-working
was jumped and suffered a serious blow to the head. He was brought
student, mentored by those he helps around the ministry compound.
to the medical clinic where it was determined he needed to be
With strength and conviction, he keeps a smile on his face despite
evacuated to Kenya to receive further treatment. He spent Christmas
the adversity he has endured.
that year in Nairobi as a part of my friendsâ€™ family, receiving life-saving treatment, experiencing the big city, and learning about a life lived by faith.
Students learning on the walls of a former arms storehouse
Thunderstorms rolling in over a temporary shelter for cattle herders
“Feel the pain teaching us how much more we can take, reminding us how far we’ve come. Let the pain burn away from our hearts, we have time to start all over again. Oh if you would shine your love down here, I promise I’ll reflect it right back at you.” – Copeland
special thanks Professor Gloria Kondrup, Art Center College of Design Mariana Amatullo & Elisa Ruffino, Designmatters Department (designmattersatartcenter.org) Orly Olivier Photography (orlyolivier.com) Sabet & Suzy Kuj, In Deed And Truth Ministries (indeedandtruth.org) Stefanie, Mom, Dad, Ethan & Caroline
Design and Photography ÂŠ2008, 2010, 2011 Tyler Paulson www.tylerpaulson.com