Photo Essay: Children Find Safety Amid Uncertainty in South Sudan

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Photos by Ashley Hamer

Six months after their evacuation from their village in Juba, the SOS Children’s Villages families are settling in at their temporary homes in the South Sudanese capital. These photos, taken in early December 2016, show that life has returned to normal for the children despite the ongoing security challenges in the country.

Old shoes

The SOS Children’s Village in Juba, which opened in early 2015, was evacuated on 11 July 2016 as fighting gripped the capital. The children were quickly moved to safety, leaving behind nearly everything they had.

Toothbrushes in tin

Even toothbrushes were left as the village was evacuated. Following the move, SOS Children’s Villages launched an emergency program to provide health and emotional care, as well as educational and food support for the more than 120 SOS children and young people. The relief program also helps vulnerable families near the temporary village.

Children reading under tree

Isaac James Adwok (centre) talks to children from the SOS Children’s Village outside the gates of the temporary village. Isaac was instrumental in evacuating the village in Malakal three years ago and again in helping to lead the children to safety in Juba in July. Isaac, an SOS co-worker in South Sudan, received the Helmut Kutin Award for his role in evacuating children from Malakal. 

Children playing games in Ethiopia

The houses that have been rented to provide a temporary home for the more than 120 children and young people in SOS care aren’t as spacious as the SOS Children’s Village, but the compound offers a safe place to play, relax and eat.

Children waiting for breakfast in Ethiopia

Children wait for a breakfast of tea, bread, boiled eggs and fruit.

Children drinking tea

Children enjoy a cup of tea in the morning shade at the temporary SOS Children’s Village.

Children watching something on a laptop

Televisions, computers, books and most other household items were lost when the SOS Children’s Village in Juba was looted during an outbreak of fighting in July. For entertainment, the families today gather around a laptop to watch TV.

Children play soccer in Ethiopia

With school closed for year-end holidays, boys spend their afternoons playing football in a field close to their temporary homes.

Children pass their time with games and activities

Conditions at the rented homes in are cramped compared to the abandoned village, but the children pass their time with games and activities.

Nurse Achol Ajak Nyibong

Nurse Achol Ajak Nyibong manages the small dispensary at the temporary village. She has had to re-equip and re-supply the health facility since the one at the SOS Children’s Village was looted in July.


In December 2013, some 80 children and 40 young people under the care of SOS Children’s Villages in Malakal, along with 30 co-workers, were evacuated to a UN compound in Malakal because of fighting and looting of the SOS Children’s Village. Three months later they were moved to Juba, the capital. In August 2014, the SOS families displaced from Malakal moved into a temporary village in Jebel, on the outskirts of Juba.

The SOS Children’s Village, youth facility, and family strengthening program in Juba opened in January 2015. Fighting that erupted in the capital in early July 2016 forced the SOS families to evacuate to housing elsewhere in Juba. Today there are more than 120 children and young people living in rental housing. In July 2016, a humanitarian appeal was launched to provide assistance to the SOS families as well as at-risk children and families in the nearby community.

Want to help?  Become an SOS Mayday Responder.

Canadians wishing to help vulnerable children are encouraged to sponsor a child, sponsor a Village or make a one-time donation. Your support will change the lives of orphaned, abandoned and other vulnerable children. Please help today.