For the past two years, I have been in South Sudan photographing news and humanitarian issues. My focus has been on border demarcation, the conflict over oil, healthcare and the Sudanese refugees living in South Sudan.
My first memory of photography is taking photographs in a park close to my house after a huge storm. It was my first roll of black-and-white film. I developed it in a makeshift darkroom at my school. I left my film to dry, and returned to find that some older students had thrown it away.
My mother taught me to use her 35mm film camera. I taught myself digital photography while studying in Indonesia and travelling in Africa. After university, I attended the International Center of Photography’s documentary and photojournalism program.
A month after graduating from the photojournalism course, I went to live in Port Sudan, Sudan. I was living in a one-room apartment with two of my friends. I had been waiting for weeks to get a travel permit from Khartoum and had become sick. A website asked me to take photos for an environmental story on the banning of plastic bags. For the first time, I thought that maybe I could make this photography thing work.
Last spring, I had the opportunity to travel into the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan, Sudan with the Sudanese rebel group, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army - North (SPLA-N). I have always held a special place in my heart for the Sudanese people because of their dignity, hospitality, and humour. I was struck by the intense amount of suffering that the Sudanese government continues to inflict upon its own people throughout Sudan.
I like to be able to take the time to be enveloped in the story as much as possible and to feel that I am part of a struggle, even for a brief moment.
Working in South Sudan is isolating, but it can also be exciting to photograph events that may not otherwise be documented.
There’s always a hope in my mind that a photograph will spark a thought, realisation, or action that could help to change a situation for the better.
My biggest lesson? Humour and patience go a long way.
I respect the people I’ve met in South Sudan who have been through so much suffering, yet still have the desire and motivation to make productive changes.