Before launching my private practice, I had the incredible opportunity to work in international humanitarian aid for many years. This experience really shaped me - especially when, in 2015, I went to South Sudan.
Even with all of my experience from working in international aid, nothing quite prepared me for South Sudan. In 2015, the country was (and, tragically, still is), in the midst of a brutal civil war. There was a looming famine. There were horrific atrocities occurring. I spent some time working in the largest displaced persons camp in the country, where I was responsible for figuring out how to run three malnutrition centers treating thousands of utterly devastating cases of extreme hunger every week and managing a team of 50 staff. I met the most resilient, brave and beautiful people in that camp. Some had walked for days through swamps with nothing but hope, and what they could carry in their arms to reach the safety of the camp. It's hard to describe the tragedy, beauty, humanity and resilience.
Almost three years later, I am still passionate about and involved in this cause. While in South Sudan, I learned that only 1 in 10 girls finishes school. Last year, I joined the advisory council of the VAD foundation, which is doing amazing work to educate and feed children in South Sudan. Valentino Achak Deng is a South Sudanese refugee. In 2006 he founded the VAD foundation, and in 2009 he opened the Marial Bai Secondary School. This was the first fully-functional high school in the entire region. There aren’t many other opportunities for students, especially girls, to continue their education past elementary school. The Marial Bai Secondary School has been ranked one of the best schools in the country because it is independent of the government of South Sudan. Since the country is still facing many challenges, this ensures that the school can operate even when the government cannot fund the country’s public schools.
This year, the VAD foundation opened the Alok Girls’ Academy, a boarding school for up to 144 young South Sudanese women. They can increase the number of students with our help and provide the present students with good nutrition and high quality education.
Tribal Art and Jewelry
During my time in South Sudan I was so impressed by South Sudanese tribal art. After returning, I decided to collaborate with my friends from Alucik to create a jewelry line that is inspired by South Sudanese art. The founders of Alucik experiment with the conversion of hand-drawn digital designs into highly detailed stainless steel patterns. This allowed them to create designs inspired by beautiful South Sudanese tribal art and to produce truly unique pieces. The collection turned out more beautiful than I even imagined!
You can see and buy all the pieces here. Use code NOMADISTA for 15% OFF!!
The new jewelry collection is raising awareness about the situation in SS and a portion of the proceeds go to the VAD foundation.
If you are interested in getting more involved in this cause, please contact me!