I visited the Confident Children out of Conflict (CCC) Center in Juba, a place where displaced children in South Sudan are given shelter, an education, affection, and a second chance. I was greeted by Cathy, the center’s director. She was very kind, but also a bit nervous about my presence. She’d been briefed about my interview process. “We can talk about happy moments,” she said. “But let’s not ask these children about their saddest moments, or times they felt afraid. Many of them were malnourished, abandoned, or regularly sexually abused. Some of them have witnessed extreme violence. When journalists ask them to relive these memories, it can set them back for an entire month. They begin to act out. Often their trauma is so bad, that when the children first arrive, they can be very hateful toward me. But I feel blessed by the hate. Because I know it’s part of the healing process. And if they need someone to hate so that they can heal, I’m glad it can be me.”
A few minutes after this conversation, a young girl walked up to Cathy, gave her a hug, and ran away. Cathy seemed quite moved. “That girl was very badly abused,” she said. “She’s been here for months. And that’s the first time she’s ever hugged me.”
(Juba, South Sudan)
When violence broke out in Sudan last December, Michael was shot twice in the leg while he was walking home from school. Michael is a member of the Nuer tribe, and his shooting was a hate crime committed against him by members of the Dinka tribe. I sat down to talk with him at the Confident Children out of Conflict (CCC) Center, in the presence of Cathy, the center’s director. Before we even broached the subject of the shooting, Cathy spoke with Michael for several minutes. In a particularly beautiful moment, Cathy had Michael list all the members of the Dinka tribe who had helped in his recovery. Eventually, Cathy asked Michael if he wanted to talk about the shooting. He shook his head ‘no.’ Not wanting to push the issue, I quickly changed the topic. I pulled out my iPhone, and began to show Michael pictures of Susie The Dog. He took the phone from me, and spent several minutes scrolling through all my photos. Later that night, after I returned to the hotel, I found an unexpected new picture on my phone.
(Juba, South Sudan)
She said she wanted to be a pilot, and when I asked why, she spoke two words. My translator said: “She says, something like: ‘I want to be able to control myself in the air.’”
"But what exactly did she say?" I asked.
“‘Kuar Nhial,’ he answered. ‘It means: ‘I’ll be the leader of the air.’”
(Tongping Internally Displaced Persons Site, Juba, South Sudan)
I remember all the Doctor Who fanfics I used to read where Rose often got badly stereotyped as a damsel in distress whom the Doctor had to swoop in and save and smooch but the way I remember Doctor Who 90% of their relationship was the Doctor just setting Rose loose on people who had done something to offend them and sitting back giggling in the corner as she shouted
setting Rose loose