The Lost Boys of Sudan is a familiar story. Fleeing from civil war and the genocide of more than two million people, 20,000 children walked more than a thousand miles to find safety. More than half perished.
When the world learned of their tragic circumstances, the U.S. welcomed 3,800 Lost Boys to be resettled.
Twenty-seven years after their exodus, more than 300 Lost Boys & Girls remain in Kakuma, the refugee camp established for them so many years ago. are now men and women with sons and daughters of their own. After 26 years, they still cling to the hope of finding a place they may call home, where they might thrive. Some are defiant; some, dispirited. All are lost.
For purchasing or exhibit information, contact Marti Corn.
ROAD TO NOWHERE
Hundreds of thousands have walked this thread of road that cuts a wide expanse of desert and open sky to escape civil war and persecution. They travel hundreds and even thousands of miles from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Somalia, and South Sudan. The cruel irony is that few may ever leave.
They are refugees living in a camp harshly named Kakuma, which translated, means ‘nowhere.’ It is illegal to call this place home. They face systemic corruption, deplorable health care, a lack of food and water, and oppressive living conditions with temperatures hovering around 100°. They are trapped with nowhere to go.
Each morning, I watch with curiosity as they walk into their day, traveling back and forth between the camp and a nearby town for supplies. They look towards the horizon and continue to hope that one day they’ll be allowed to venture somewhere ‘out there,’ where they’ll be welcomed and can once again have a place they may call home.
Houston has welcomed 70,000 refugees—more refugees any other city in the U.S.. Out of Darkness places a spotlight on the lives of these New Americans who now call Houston home and those who are dedicated to help them.
Most of their words convey overwhelming gratitude that the U.S. has given their family the rare opportunity to call America home—a place where they can go to school, work, and contribute to their community. But behind their joyful voices, there is a wounding sorrow that etches each of their faces. As one told me, “one of the only things we have in common is the insane violence we have all witnessed.”
Those I photographed are one of the less than one percent of the more than 25 million refugees worldwide who will ever be resettled.
Tamina is one of the few remaining emancipation communities in the United State. It's thought to be the oldest freedmen’s town in Texas. Freed slaves, a handful of whom had funds to buy their own land, created this community in 1871. They built their own churches, schools and businesses, tilled their land, and worked in the flourishing lumber industry. Their stories reveal a deep-rooted kinship, with values centered on family and community. Regardless of the challenges these people have faced, their faith, gratitude, and humor always thread their tales.
The Ground on Which I Stand, a collection of portraits and landscapes, along with the oral histories of 14 people and their families is published by Texas A&M Press. A second edition is in production with a 2019 release date, including an oral history curriculum. For information regarding the new release along with a traveling exhibit, please contact Marti Corn.
Salzwedel is a bustling medieval town of 20,000. Its charming cobblestone streets wind between centuries-old stone buildings, with a river flowing through its center. Scarred remnants of the wall which once divided East from West Germany still remain. In the center of town, there is an abandoned four-story building covering most of a medieval block, with soaring ceilings, arched windows, and a looming clock tower. Throughout the 20th century it has been used as a private girls’ school in the early part of the century, a hospital during World War II, and a school for the Young Pioneers, part of The Free German Youth founded within the Soviet occupation zone of Germany. It has been reclaimed and is now known as Kunsthaus, an art center that features a permanent collection, visiting exhibits, and a floor dedicated to artists-in-residence and art courses.
While in residency at Hilmsen, a neighboring village, and while the renovations of Kunsthaus were under way, I invited residents who support the arts to have their portraits made. Each was asked why art is important to them, how it affects their lives, and which medium they would like to explore. Some brought their children and others arrived with their instruments. All brought enthusiasm and show of support for Kunsthaus.
For purchasing and exhibit information, contact Marti Corn
KIBERA TO GEM
The countryside surrounding Nairobi is rich and lush – in contrast to the poverty seen in every direction from inside the city.
These images were made during my first journey to Kenya, where I traveled with Pangea Network meeting with women in Kibera, one of Africa’s largest slums, located on the outskirts of Nairobi and then driving out to Gem located on the western border's edge.