Thirty thousand men, women, and children from Sudan’s Blue Nile state sought an end to nine months of terror and trauma when they crossed the border into neighboring South Sudan this past June.
They joined a population of 70,000 refugees who preceded them in fleeing Khartoum’s deadly military campaign to crush the northern remnant of the Southern liberation movement.
Shannon Jensen photographer,captured some of the shoes that made the journey.
These shoes belong to 6-year-old Hamid Absalah, from Mugom. He and his family walked for 20 days to reach the border. Children over the age of 5 were rarely carried unless the family was one of the fortunate few who traveled with a camel or donkey.
Batuna Amat, a young woman in her 20s, walked for 30 days to the border from her home area of Gabanit but she was likely displaced from her home far earlier.
Mikram Suliman, a 5-year-old girl from Kukur, walked for 30 days to reach the border.
Gasim Issa, a man in his 50s from Igor, walked 20 days to the border in these shoes made from animal hide.
These shoes belong to Musa Shep, a 2-year-old boy from Gabanit, whose family traveled 20 days to the border. Most very young children were carried by men on their backs or by women in baskets hanging from poles that balanced on their shoulders.
Mamur Poin, a man in his 70s from Gabanit, walked for 25 days to the border. His home was torched by the Sudanese armed forces. At least three people in Gabanit were burned alive in their homes, unable to escape due to age or injury.
Adam Abdu, a 5-year-old boy from Bau, walked for 30 days to the border.
Makka Kalfar, a 7-year-old girl from Buk, did not know how many days she walked to the border. She had been on the move for nine months after fleeing her home.
Sela Changil, a woman in her 40s from Gabanit, walked for two months to reach the border. Along with hundreds from her village, she made her way through the forest, too afraid to venture on the roads, where the Sudanese forces would lie in ambush.
Mussah Abdullai, a 6-year-old girl from Igor, walked for 30 days to the border.
Siama Idriss, a 10-year-old girl from Igor, walked for 30 days to the border.
Saddam Omar, a 25-year-old man from Tiful, walked day and night, with little pause, for eight days to reach the border. This incredible array of worn-down, ill-fitting, and jerry-rigged shoes belonging to the Blue Nile refugees form a silent testimony to the arduous nature of their journey, as well as to the persistence and ingenuity of the individuals who survived it.