Love Yourself: The Girls of Nyal, South Sudan

Mary (16): "I want to be a ruler one day. I want to be a queen, a strong queen. Right now, I feel like playing the jumping rope makes me strong. That's why I love playing it and I want to have my picture taken with it." The most common reason for young girls to drop out of school is marriage. Young girls interviewed by Oxfam said they use the fear of being married to motivate themselves to do well at school. The ambitions of girls beyond marriage also shone through. | Photo credit: Noura Nyal

Featuring: Noura Nyal Kids, Andreea Câmpeanu, Rhea Catada, Bruno Bierrenbach Feder

Presented by

Oxfam America

In South Sudan, five years of civil war has driven families to desperation. Many parents have been forced to marry off young daughters for a dowry in order to survive. Denied the right to choose how to live their lives, these girls lose out on the opportunity for an education, face an increased risk of death in childbirth, and they may be subjected to sexual and physical violence in marriage.

Oxfam teamed up with international photojournalist Andreea Câmpeanu to find out more about the lives, hopes, and dreams of some of the girls in the village of Nyal, where seventy percent of girls are married before the age of eighteen.

The girls called themselves the Noura Nyal Kids. Noura means love yourself in the Nuer language. Asked why they had chosen the name, one girl said: “We should be able to love ourselves more, and we should be able to dream about having a better life, a better future.”

With Câmpeanu, the girls learned basic photography skills, talked about what being a child meant to them, and what future they saw for themselves. They experimented by taking photos of each other, expressing their ideas on camera.

Note: The names of the young women have been changed to protect their privacy.

ARTIST BIO

The Noura Nyal Kids are from the town of Nyal, South Sudan, where seventy percent of the girls are married before the age of eighteen. The young women range in age from fourteen to eighteen, and they dream of a better future. New to photography, Oxfam introduced them to international photojournalist Andreea Câmpaneau. Together, they practiced basic photography skills, exploring parts of Nyal that they loved, while they experimented taking photos of each other.

Andreea Câmpeanu is a photographer based in Juba, South Sudan. She has a Master of Arts in Visual Anthropology from Free University in Berlin. She focuses on documenting issues related to displacement and the effects of conflict.

Rhea Catada has worked as Oxfam’s Press Officer in South Sudan since 2017. Rhea is an angry, poor, Asian, feminist, and an activist, who uses various forms of media (photography, videography, radio, graphic design, and writing) to support activists and civil society movements in South Sudan, the Philippines, and Myanmar.

Bruno Bierrenbach Feder is from São Paulo, Brazil. He has worked as a documentary photographer with organizations such as the United Nations Population Fund, Oxfam, and Girls Education South Sudan. He recently graduated from the International Center of Photography in New York, and is based in South Sudan.

ORGANIZATION BIO

Oxfam is a global organization working to end the injustice of poverty. We help people build better futures for themselves by working with partners to support long-term solutions that help poor communities grow nutritious food, access land and clean water, and secure decent work and good wages. We hold the powerful accountable by using advocacy to tackle the systems, policies, and practices that keep people trapped in poverty.

We save lives in disasters by working with local people to lead humanitarian responses that provide immediate relief, and build resilience against future threats. Oxfam has been working in South Sudan for over thirty years. We currently provide humanitarian aid in the wake of the country’s civil war.

Oxfam is pushing for marginalized communities to have more control over their natural resources and a bigger voice in ending local and national conflicts.

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