Global Lens Reflections on life, the universe, and everything

Swirling color

A woman puts on her toob, the common garment worn by women in Darfur, in the wind in the Dereig Camp for internally displaced persons.

This image was taken in 2007 in the Dereig camp for displaced people in Darfur, the western region of Sudan. Left homeless after attacks by government-backed militias, this woman lives crowded with other displaced families in a depressing collection of huts, yet she wears clothing with vibrant colors. I saw her when I was walking through the camp; she came out of her hut and turned into the wind, struggling with her "toob" as the wind whipped it back. It's the all-purpose garment that women wrap around themselves. It occured to me that it might make an interesting image if photographed from below (I scare even myself at times), so I explained to my translator what I wanted to do. OK. . . it took him a minute to get it, and then we ran and caught up with the woman and a friend. The translator explained to her what I wanted to do, and a lively discussion ensued between the two women and my translator. I guess it wasn't an everyday occurence that a foreign man wants to lay on the ground as you get dressed. But once they got it, the woman embraced her task with laughter, giggling with her friend as she wrapped the garment around herself several times, each time the wind whipping it out behind. I clicked away, laughing and yelling enouragement. Wouldn't it be great if all the photos to be taken in Darfur were such celebrations of life?

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