Last year, National Geographic brought its photo camp to one of the world’s youngest nations, South Sudan. To date, 67 camps have been held around the world with the purpose of “empowering youth to document their communities using photography.” For South Sudan, a country just starting to build its history, the camp could not have come at a better time.
South Sudan gained its independence in 2011, following one of Africa’s deadliest civil wars, yet ethnic conflicts within South Sudan continue to cast a shadow over this nation and its people.
For six days, however, communication students from the University of Juba, all from different tribes, came together to learn and connect on a human level through the universal language of photography.
One student — and aspiring photojournalist — Duku Stephen Savio, took his new skills out into the field to document a kickboxing tournament. What he saw through his camera, however, was more than a sporting event:
“It was great to see my fellow countrymen trying to participate in kickboxing. It gave me hope to see different tribes coming together to fight for peace.”
“It’s great to be in one family with different people,” said Savio.
One of Savio’s favorite photos captured a man with both the South Sudan and American flag on his shorts. It was a powerful moment for Savio to see these flags side-by-side and represented at the tournament — a reminder of their new independence and the U.S.’s support of South Sudan’s referendum.
Savio hopes to continue to tell the story of his country through photos. His goal, he says, is to continue documenting and preserving the history of their country for future generations.
Visit National Geographic to learn more about their Photo Camps.