Feature: South Sudan’s disabled people learning photography skills for better future

South Sudan’s Magdalena Keji has defied physical impairment to pursue photography with passion, believing it can contribute to her country’s renewal.

“Acquiring photography techniques will help me use only a lens to demystify negative beliefs that people have toward people living with physical disabilities,” the 28-year-old told Xinhua during an interview in Juba on Monday.

Keji said that five years of civil strife in South Sudan has greatly affected people with disabilities both mentally and physically because their stories remain untold.

She participated in a five-day training organized by a team of professional freelance photographers in Juba to defy the belief that this vocation can be difficult for people with physical or mental disabilities.

“The skills I will get here is important to me as someone who has lived life as physically disabled girl child, because I believe the training will help me know how to disseminate right photo that gives a clear message to the public,” said Keji.

She revealed that she has lived the plight of being a person with disability since childhood but managed to defy the odds and became a graduate in 2013 from the University of Juba with a Bachelor’s degree in Public Administration.

The graduate said despite the work done by the ministry of gender, child and social welfare, there is still dissemination against people with physical disabilities in the workplaces.

Dhieu Lual Aken, 38-year-old and also the father of three children, said the training will equip him with much-needed photographic techniques that will support him to acquire a job with one of the media local dailies in the country.

“It has been my dream to become a professional photographer and tell a story using a camera. I believe the training will earn me a job that can support my family’s basic needs,” Aken told Xinhua.

Aken expressed physical disability has not affected his human senses, saying he has experienced rejection and hardships, but adversity will never deter him from becoming a videographer.

Another participant, 27-year-old Laku Bonnaparte, said as a graduate of economics and business administration from a local university, he would love to own a studio once he learns how to operate a camera.

“As you have seen me moving with crutches, I will use my hands, mind to operate the camera,” Laku told Xinhua.

Jok Solomon Anyang, a freelance professional photographer, the organizer and facilitator of the training, told Xinhua that his aim is to empower people with physical disabilities to be able to cover and narrate their own stories to the world.

He said the 12 participants include six females, and his team of six professional photographers will equip the learners with the basic photographic techniques, including how to set the camera among others.

“It took me three months to decide why I wanted to train people living with physical disabilities on photographic skills and the reason was that they are the most neglected but they need to have knowledge,” Jok said.

“There is a need to engage and encourage them that they have a special role to play in this country. I believe it is the opportunity for them to have jobs in the country,” he added.

Source: Xinhua