Metamorphosis: South Sudan to Lincoln and Beyond
Audio tour accompanying works displayed September 2018 - Bemis Hall, Lincoln, MA
Our Women Are Over Work:
Since they are young they were doing a heavy job
Acrylic on Canvas, 2007
Donated by Christopher and Nancy Winship to South Sudanese Enrichment for Families.
Victor Jal is living in Kakuma refugee camp (Kenya) and worked in the painting workshop. Victor was the secretary of the group of artists and took care of the materials which need to be bought in Nairobi. Victor is from the Equatoria region in southern Sudan.
The artist presents a double vision of African women’s work. A traditional village setting is juxtaposed against more abstract rendition of a refugee camp, in front of a brick wall.
Black in the Hard Life
Acrylic on Canvas, 2007
That is talking about the suffering of people in Southern Sudan. The cutting of the leg is showing that Arab people want to kill all the black people that live in the south. All Arab people put their hands on the black people in the country. And it shows that other people – American people, Canadian people, people from Australia – are looking. [The horn] shows that they killed all the cows. To Dinka people, cows are more valuable than anything. They only remain with the horn.
— Atem Aleu
To me, refugees suffer – there is no way you can avoid that.
There are hundreds of thousands of refugees around the world and even the people working for the United Nations High Commission themselves will tell you there is no way they can control – they are trying to help, to minimize the problem, but they cannot carry it out with all the things that are facing the refugees. But this – to be cut, blood, there are no clinics and no medicine for all this and I think that in the refugee camp it is a daily thing you can see.
— Franco Majok
Usually back in the village, people would have guinea worm. The only way to treat them is to break the skin.There are people who know how to do it, so they usually sharpen a nail, or anything that can be sharpened, and penetrate the skin. Then they squeeze it out.
Lincoln Sudbury High School
In 2000 there was a meeting with John Ritchie, the superintendent of the Sudbury Schools to discuss if the three young South Sudanese refugee men- Kuol, Charles and Peter- could come to Lincoln Sudbury High School. John Ritchie and the School Committee said YES! It was a very proud moment for everyone in Lincoln. No one new how old these young men were at the time- they seemed like teenagers but in their native southern Sudan, there were no city halls, and births were not recorded. Next, they needed a place to live. Many meetings happened with Codman Farm, its Board, and the Town of Lincoln. It was decided that they could live at the Farm and work there to defray the cost of the rent. They attended LS for four years, and all graduated. Many teachers and students had never met a refugee…and now there were three at their school! Many college essays were written about this experience. Having these young men attend LS taught many about what is important in life.
Codman Community Farms
Founded in 1973 by citizens interested in continuing the farming tradition of Lincoln, Codman Community Farms is a non-profit agricultural enterprise. It began as a part-time, volunteer operation and over the years has grown, thanks to the myriad of volunteers that helped along the way.
Back in 2000 when the “Lost Boys” came to Massachusetts, a group of Lincoln residents in collaboration with the International Rescue Committee arranged for some of these young men to present at talk at Lincoln’s Donaldson Auditorium followed by a pot luck supper at Codman Farm.
When the young men came to speak, they were surprised to see that Lincoln was very much like South Sudan, the homeland they had fled years earlier. There were rolling hills, lush fields, Codman Farm animals, and Ellen Raja’s sheep! Their sense of connection to this place was palpable.
At the supper at Codman Farm after their talk, news came up of an apartment becoming available at Codman Farm. Perhaps this could house these young men?
After a few months of negotiating with Codman Farm Board, the Codman Farmers, the Town of Lincoln and Lincoln Sudbury High School, a plan was made in collaboration with the International Rescue Committee to have three young men live and work at Codman Farm and go to school at Lincoln Sudbury High School
Kuol came to Lincoln in 2001 after living in Roxbury. He is very grateful to Codman Farm Board, the Town of Lincoln and Lincoln Sudbury High School for making his stay in Lincoln possible and for obtaining a high school education. He was a soccer star at Lincoln Sudbury High School- his team proudly went to the State finals. From LS, Kuol attended La Salle College and graduated in 2009. He moved to Chelsea after college and has worked at the Langham Hotel for 8 years. A year ago, Kuol developed cancer and has been in treatment at Dana Farber ever since. Because of this illness, Kuol has not been able to work. Currently, he lives in Chelsea with his wife who is expecting their first child in early October.
Charles Adeng Chayor
Charles came to live in Lincoln in 2001. He was one of the “Lost Boys” who was resettled in the United States in 2000 from Kakuma refugee camp. Charles worked at Codman Farm and attended Lincoln Sudbury High School, graduating in 2005. He loved Lincoln and remembers people very well from here. “My life changed because of Lincoln. I was taught responsibility, of how having relationships is important and how to be respectful of people. Lincoln gave me hope. Lincoln is in my heart.” Charles worked at Costco while living at Codman Farm and going to school. At first he worked part-time but started working full time after he graduated from High School. Charles moved to Australia 8 years ago and is currently living in Victoria with his wife and three children, Adol 6, Machot 4 and Marol 10 months old. “Victoria is hard. I was not welcomed here; this makes it hard to adjust. It is a different culture. There is a lot of racism here in Victoria.”
Peter Leek Nhiany
Peter was one of the “Lost Boys” who came to the United States in 2001. He started his life in the U.S. in Chelsea, Massachusetts and moved to Lincoln, at Codman Farm, in 2002. He was able to live at Codman Farm and attend Lincoln Sudbury High School. He is very grateful to the Farm Board and to John Ritchie, Superintendent of Lincoln Sudbury High School, who made this all possible for him. He is very grateful for the generous support he received from Lincoln residents and others during his four years in Lincoln. From Lincoln Sudbury High School he attended Curry College, graduating in 2009 with a BA in Communications. Currently, Peter lives in Lynn and works at Brigham and Women’s Hospital at Faulkner as an Operating Room Technician. He enjoys weekends with his daughter, Aleny who is almost 5 and lives with her mother. He has a wife in Sudan and two children there. Peter continues to smile all the time.
Ajueny Galuack (“AJ”)
AJ came to Lincoln in 2004 after being in North Dakota for a year. She met Mathiang, a “Lost Boy” in Boston, who she eventually married. They moved to Lincoln and lived with BJ Scheff. AJ attended Lincoln Sudbury Regional High School where she met a lot of people and had a wonderful experience. Mathiang went to UMass Boston, and later got his Masters at Brandeis University. After high school, AJ attended Mass Bay Community College and then went on to get her CNA and Medical Assistant Certificate. Currently AJ works in Westford at The Bridges as a Medical Assistant, and Mathiang works for Partners Health. They have four adorable children Ajok 12, Abuk 8, Bul 5 and Nyandeng 2.
Akuot came to America in 2001 from Sudan when she was a teenager. She lived with her older brother and his family in Syracuse, New York and attended college there. She is the young teenager in the movie “God Grew Tired of Us”- she is the girl who is with her mother at the airport and feels embarrassed with all the attention of coming to America!
She met Jacob, a “Lost Boy” who lived in Boston. Jacob went to University of New Hampshire and now works for Fidelity Investments. They settled in Medford, and in 2014 they moved to Lincoln. Akuot worked for South Sudanese Enrichment for Families for 2 years as an Administrator and a Community Liaison. Akuot feels strongly that the family needs good schools and the ability to buy a house. Although Lincoln has great schools, Akuot felt that they would not be able to buy a house here. As of last week, Akuot, her husband and their three kids moved to Texas. Mabil is starting Kindergarten this fall, her daughter Ajok is in preschool, and her youngest, Zandia (Akur) is under a year old. Her husband continues to work for Fidelity Investments.
The Boston area has become very expensive to rent an apartment or to buy a house. Some Sudanese have left the Boston area and live in the western suburbs, but they continue to work and commute into Boston. This life style can be very stressful. Many families are thinking of moving out of Boston because of the cost of living.
Adhieu was born in South Sudan and came to America from a refugee camp in Ethiopia. She was first settled in North Dakota but then joined her cousin Daniel who lived with his wife AJ in BJ Scheff’s home in Lincoln. She went to Lincoln Sudbury High School and then went to Mass Bay Community College, and then to Worcester State College where she studied Public Health. Her brother, Achech, went to UMass Boston and lived with Daniel and Aj in BJ’s home also. While Adhieu was at Lincoln Sudbury High School she met Heidi Derbyshire, a tutor from SSEF, who she eventually lived with when she was not in college. She is grateful to BJ for giving her a place to live and Heidi for helping her with her English and tuition for college. Life in Lincoln was great. Adhieu met her husband, Ayol who was one of the “Lost Boys” and married him. Ayol went to McGill University and moved to Langley British Columbia where he works as a contractor. Adhieu lives withAyol and their 3-year-old adorable son Malual.
Moved to Lincoln from Salem a few months ago. She had been resettled in Seattle but moved to the East Coast be with her sister. She is raising two wonderful kids- Ayol and Aluel. Ayol looks to be about 15 but is actually 9 and is going into the third grade. Aluel and Ayol loved Lincoln Day Camp this past summer. Rebecca works at the Langham Hotel in Boston.