Alek Wek visits South Sudan

Travelling brought back difficult memories for Alek Wek, but the supermodel and former refugee was comforted by stories of resilience

South Sudan. Alek Wek's visit.

Juba, July 2012.  © UNHCR/B. Sokol

“I had not been to South Sudan since 2005. This was my first trip home in a long time. I went there to remind my countrymen that anything is possible! South Sudan will be a vibrant nation again”.

South Sudan

South Sudan.  © UNHCR/ V. Tan

Sudanese refugee children from Sudan’s Blue Nile State collect water from boreholes that were drilled in Doro camp to accommodate their urgent needs and to clean themselves. Families receive relief supplies from UNHCR, including plastic sheets, sleeping mats, blankets, buckets, jerry cans, kitchen sets and mosquito nets.

South Sudan. Alek Wek's visit.

Juba, July 2012.  © UNHCR/B. Sokol

But Alek learnt about the lack of education. She was told by a refugee mother that her children had to walk for two or three hours to get to a secondary school: “Over and over again I heard people talking about the need for education. Girls particularly need access to education in South Sudan.”

Supermodel, former refugee and UNHCR Refugee Advocate, Alek Wek greets a woman in a returnee community in Juba, South Sudan. UNHCR/B.Sokol/July 9, 2012

Juba, July 2012.  © UNHCR/B. Sokol

Naomi is 83 years old and lost three sons to the conflict. She now lives in a returnee community in Juba and takes care of her grandchildren.

“I have always felt it important to support the efforts of organizations that help refugees rebuild their lives. As a refugee from South Sudan, I understand what it is like to be forced from your home. It’s painful, scary and can separate you from your loved ones.”

Alek Wek