When did they decide to run? The sisters cannot re…

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When did they decide to run? The sisters cannot re…


Neil Shea







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When did they decide to run? The sisters cannot remember. In the backs of rattling trucks they came down out of the Nuba Mountains and headed east toward Kenya. Afaf, in white, hair tightly braided, was 17 and pregnant. Over the potholes and mud ruts she braced herself against grain sacks and learned a new kind of balance. Nadia, 16 and watching everything, at times reached through the tangled knees and elbows of other passengers and pressed her palm to Afaf's warm swelling belly. One Month and Eight Days they traveled toward the camp at Kakuma. A journey nearly long as The Flood. I know this much because Afaf corrected me as I wrote it and Nadia laughed at me for requiring such exactness. Other things are not so precise. When, for example, did they become refugees? At the border, Nadia suggests. Earlier, says Afaf. During a single sleepless night, perhaps, or during a day when the fighting flowed too close. At some point one must choose. The girls left with their mother and father, uncle and cousins. The nights were very dark, the road a river of refugees. Mosquitoes, rain, thin meals of beans. Trying to make the money last. But all this is normal. Strange is that at some point out there the girls' parents went off in another direction and have not been heard from since. The girls arrived at Kakuma just in time for Afaf to deliver a son, who she named Simon, after the saint. He is 24 days old and sleeps under a pink blanket on the floor of a hot concrete room. Around him, like a mobile, Afaf's underwear has been hung to dry. Simon, she softly calls, and without waking he shakes his little fists at the sky. See the series: #kakumaseries2014

@unhcrkenya @randyolson #kakuma #kenya #sudan #refugees #everydayafrica #documentary #portraits #periphery #collaboration #theamericanscholar #instagramjournalism #killingthenutgraf





Neil Shea, “When did they decide to run? The sisters cannot re…,” The InstaEssay Archive, accessed August 5, 2020, http://instaessayarchive.org/items/show/3636.