It started floating down from the sky at dusk, around 4pm at the moment in Glasgow. 8 year old Yamat was the first to notice and pointed to it through the window as we all sat talking on the couches. Coming from Syria, snow is a familiar thing for the Nasrallah family. So it was me the Australian photographer who found the snow/slush fall most exciting.To be fair, it was less snow and more slush by all accounts and not even enough to cover the ground. When Mohammad opened the large window in the lounge room of the apartment, it felt like we had our own private viewing of the world outside.
Inside the apartment I sat with Mohammad father of seven catching up on the news of the family. I initially met Mohammad when I was commissioned by the British Red Cross last year to document the lives of reunited refugee families living in Scotland. This commissioned project culminated in a very successful exhibition in the Mitchell Library and Kibble Palace green house in the Botanical Gardens of Glasgow. Links to the project are here on BBC and here on Third force news.
The Nasrallah family from Syria have now been reunited in Glasgow for a year this month, January 2016. Among the 7 children the third youngest child is 8 year old Yamat. When rockets damaged the home in Syria it was Yamat who lost her full hearing in one ear and became partially deaf in the other. Soon after the attach the family fled to Egypt. In 2014 Mohamed left his wife and seven children behind to seek asylum in the United Kingdom. Mohamed was then reunited with his family in January 2015 when they joined him in Scotland.
Last week Yamat received a hearing aid. Now she can hear again in her right ear, Mohammad said he has noticed a very big difference, she can hear everything and can talk more normally again.
Over the coming year I am based in Scotland and I will continue to document the new lives of Syrian refugees who now calling Scotland home.
Last night after landing just back in Sydney, Australia, I decided to attend South Sudan’s 4th anniversary celebrations in Blacktown. Celebration, is hardly an apt word to describe the current political landscape or harsh reality for many in the worlds newest nation. The sadness felt by many of the younger generation in Australia’s diaspora is really evident, all you need to do is ask. One young man I know well told me with a sigh, “it wont end, until one or both of these two leaders die (Kiir and Machar)”. A similar sentiment is shared by many of the younger generation I talk to who have now lived longer in Australia than they have in Africa whether it is South Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, Egypt or Ethiopia etc.
The celebrations got underway late but eventually the Bowman Hall in Blacktown started to fill up with members of Australia’s South Sudanese community. A number of my friends when asking how long I had been waiting for events to start joke with me to stop working on kawaja (foreigner) time.
For anyone wanting to follow current events in South Sudan I would recommend reading this Al Jazeera article from Australian journalist and author Antony Lowenstein who currently based in Juba the capital of South Sudan. While the current state of politics in South Sudan is very bleak I have found inspiration and hope in the younger generation of South Sudanese living in Australia. These portraits of a Dinka Agaar group before they sung and danced last night at the anniversary event are examples of a demographic of young Australian South Sudanese whom I have been documenting for the past 5 years. Shortly, the work, Stories of the South, will be published online and will also be available to buy as a zine. In the mean time I hope you enjoy these.