When Home is New
Akoch Manhim and Aerl Makemy, 29 and 28, met in Australia, where they were both living as refugees. Akoch was born in Tonj, and moved away from his rural home when he was 12 because the army was looking for young boys to join to fight. He left his family and travelled to Mayom Kbum camp with neighbors, Akoch was one of the original “Lost Boys” a phrase coined to describe children living on their own during the war. He then moved to a refugee camp in Kenya in 1998 called Kukuma. “It was terrible, there were terrible insecurities, and locals shot refugees at night. There was no health system and always a lack of water. We had to que every morning for water.” “When you are born you become more confident for the decisions you have to make in life.” A church in Australia raised money for my flight to Australia, so I went. “It was weird to be in such a developed place, while people at home suffered. I was proud to be there, to have made it there thought. Some priveledged people don’t look back, but after being educated abroad I think I have some knowledge I can share with my people. Akoch spent the majority of his life living away from his family. He saw them once in 1998, 2003, 2007 and once in 2010. Akoch’s wife, Aerl was born in Wau, she wasn’t sought to pick up a gun because she was a girl. Her father joined the movement in 1986, “When our town was attacked, he would flee with us, then return to fight.” Aerl moved around with her mother to Ethiopia, Kenya, and ended up in Australia in 2002, her mother stayed in South Sudan. Akoch and Aerl met in Sydney, Australia, they quickly bonded over issues effecting the people of Sudan, and dreamed one day of returning to their home country together. They returned to South Sudan and began planning their wedding, their hope was to get married July, 9th, the day of independence, but it wasn’t possible do to possible insecurities. Akoch and Aerl were married in Juba on June 25th, with both of their families present. Akoch intends to stay in Juba and look for work, while Aerl will return to Australia to continue her university education. “I am studying medical science, when I finish I will come back as well. Hopefully I’ll graduate next year.
Images © 2011. Portfolio design by Neon Sky.