Supermodel and former refugee Alek Wek recently returned to her native South Sudan to mark the fledgling nation's first anniversary, meet refugees and visit UNHCR programs aimed at helping some of the hundreds of thousands of returnees rebuild their lives.
During her week-long trip, the Dinka model, who fled to the United Kingdom as a teenager in 1991, attended the official ceremony on July 9 in Juba to mark independence from Sudan. Her visit also came as tens of thousands of Sudanese flee from Sudan to South Sudan to escape fighting in border states and reach remote refugee camps.
Wek visited one such camp, Yusuf Batil in Maban county, where UNHCR and partners have been struggling to provide sufficient assistance to more than 34,000 refugees in tough conditions, including torrential rains. The model met a group of refugees who had been relocated from a camp near the border, and said they were relieved to have been moved to a safer area.
"I have always felt it important to support the efforts of organizations who help refugees rebuild their lives. As a refugee from South Sudan, I understand what it is like to be forced from your home. It's painful, scary and can separate you from your loved ones," Wek wrote during her visit.
Alek's mini-documentary, covering the wide range of her poignant weeklong journey, will be premiered exclusively on Facebook this October. Follow Alek Wek's Journey Home on Facebook to be the first to witness her experiences in South Sudan. Join Alek Wek in Supporting Refugees and Returnees in South Sudan!