in the land where sleeping is a disease
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June 2003, Sven Torfinn and I were invited to Yei county by
Malteser, to witness life there; and spend time travelling
with the Sleeping Sickness Screening team. The idea was for
us to present to the rest of the world, what life is like
in south Sudan-and how it has been affected by sleeping sickness.
It was a bold move, and it is one that perhaps
needs some explanation.
Sudan has been at war for many years now; and although the
humanitarian situation there remains one of the direst in
the world, many people, their Kenyan neighbours included,
have become numbed to it. We have been sent the same visuals
over and over again: texts, pictures and voices, in the throes
of physical and mental anguish, the faces of death, the corpes
littering the screen, human debris...
So how do you awaken people to the situation in Sudan? How
do we show the world that aggressive, consistent and comprehensive
programs to reduce the prevalence of Sleeping Sickness are
necessary now, to prevent a further spread of the epidemic?
I returned from South Sudan raw and haunted, powerfully moved.
There is in Sudan much less of the cushion, the accumulative
benefits that modern technology provides. How fundamental
everything is when daily life is managed by the full use of
ones's wits, how much more human?
is so easy to leave Sudan with a story dominated by pestilence
and death: the exotica of present reportage. It is far more
difficult to draw characters and ordinary human impulses against
the larger backdrop of the war. It is my sincere hope that
the photographs in this book, and this story, will open up
a human Sudan to people outside. Through this, we hope that
readers will share the lives of the people who represent the
grim statistics we see splashed in our media so regularly.