Growing up a girl in South Sudan
This summer, I worked with the photographer Kate Holt on Plan International UK’s first exhibition in London.
Brave: the girls of South Sudan shared photos and stories of girls growing up in the midst of one of the world’s greatest humanitarian crises – giving a global audience the rare chance to learn more about their experiences.
Plan International has been working in South Sudan since the country gained independence in 2011. In the last five years, the conflict there has left four million people displaced, and over seven million in need of humanitarian assistance.
Despite its scale, the situation in South Sudan remains one of the world’s hidden emergencies. It’s a crisis full of untold stories – none more so than those of adolescent girls.
Knowing where the next meal will come from
Tackling hunger and malnutrition are an essential part of our work in South Sudan.
Thanks to the generosity of our supporters and the UK public, who donated to the Disasters Emergency Committee’s East Africa Crisis appeal in March 2017, we’ve been distributing seeds and tools so households can grow their own crops and provide for their families.
As the girls growing up there will tell you, knowing where the next meal will come from has a wide-reaching impact on their lives.
Because their families have enough to eat, these girls can care for their sick relatives and continue going to school. They’re also less likely to be married while they’re still children, as their families’ need for a dowry becomes less vital for their survival.
‘When we need school books we will sell the vegetables’
“Last year my father had no food – my father had no work and we had nothing. Plan International came and gave my father seeds, some tools, and a watering can to water the seeds. After my father was given these things, we were able to cultivate and grow things that we could sell. I can now go to school. When we need school books we will sell the vegetables.” - Helena, 15
‘We can cultivate and have something to eat and sell’
“My father is old, he is blind, and he is in the hospital in Rumbek because he is sick. We are using the money we have made in the community gardens [run by Plan International] for him to go to hospital. The garden project has really helped because we can now cultivate and have something to eat and sell.” - Monica, 12
‘Now there is no danger of me going to be married’
“When my father was given seeds and tools by Plan International – this is when I went to school. Things are now better, and we will eat twice a day – morning and evening. Since my father can harvest, we have been able to eat every day.
"My family has more financial security now so there is no danger of me going to be married. I want to finish school first. Our life now is good because of Plan International but before it was hard.” - Mary, 15
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