In the last entry, we have just landed in Yida. If you haven't read the previous entries, check them out here.
After reaching where we are staying, we learn that we need permission to film in the camp. So our leader, Mark Hackett, sets off with a few locals to get said permission. To this day I don't know who it was that he spoke with, it was just a verbal permission that spread word of mouth to others in the camp. He told us to give them the evening to spread the word, and in the morning we were free to film where we pleased.
The next morning, I wake and get breakfast. This is a big day, so we hit the ground running. First thing on the list is going to some of the schools that Yida has to offer. Our goal is to show what everyday life is like here in this refugee camp, and what a better way to start than where kids and teachers spend five days a week or more.
When we arrive at the school, about seven hundred students are pouring out of their classrooms and forming a giant square, enclosing their headmaster and creating somewhat of a platform for him and others to speak. Roll Cameras. I'm floating with a handheld rig, Aaron is on Glidecam, Jacob is floating handheld, and Katie is snapping stills handheld. It was at this time all the children started singing us songs. What a beautiful sound, completely a cappella besides the sounds of clapping and feet stomping. Most of the songs go over my head as I'm caught up in the moment of filming and composing shots. But one song in particular stood out, especially being in english, I remember the key phrase "We are the people of today, oh the people of the country."
What a powerful statement. That sentence alone encompasses so much story in so little time. "We are the people of today..." They are the future, that is recognized in their community. School is their main priority and the children understand that education is absolutely essential to a better future. After hearing from some of the older students, who described what they felt they needed to better their education, one of the pastors that was with us taught the kids Jesus Loves Me, which was awesome to hear. All this was over the course of a couple hours, so the students went back to work with their studies, and we walked on to the second school.
The first school we got all B Roll and some on the fly sound bytes, this second school is interview time. The team and I interviewed three teachers about what they feel is needed to provide a better education for their students. Very powerful hearing these incredibly intelligent people talk about what the future can hold for these children.
We scarf down a quick lunch and then get back at it. We were told of a teacher meeting being held at the educational office not far from us. That's the location of our next few interviews. Time started flying at that point and before I knew it, that was a wrap on the first day.
A couple of side notes. Even though I had been to South Sudan once before, it's almost as if I had heat amnesia. I completely underestimated the heat as we were out in the sun all day. As you'll see in the next couple entries it started to effect the team. The long days and seemingly longer sun are brutal and unforgiving. The other point I want to make is that when I say 'schools' please don't think of cement buildings. These are clay huts hand built with straw and wood roofs. A chalkboard is put in the front and some rough wooden benches hand crafted fill the rest of the room. By benches I also mean, a long branch being held up by two other branches.
Thank you for reading along with my story, be on the lookout for the next Journal Entry in the Yida Series.