A Brighter Future


Twelve-year-old John from Torit in South Sudan is determined to become his country’s president one day. Behind him is his reproduction of "A Brighter Future’ by French street artist, Seth.

There are children that are wise beyond their years... and then there is John. He smiles only when experiencing genuine joy or finds something truly funny. Only speaks when he has something meaningful to say.  

John has been living all alone in Bidibidi Refugee Settlement since August 2016. One night, when the fighting hit fever pitch in Torit, his family tried to make a hurried escape. Amid the chaos, he lost his parents and three siblings.  

“I was jumping over dead bodies. There were burning cars, shooting. I ran for my life. I don’t know who was responsible or why they were doing it,” recounts John. “Children were cut and bleeding. Some had their limbs cut off. I lost count of the number of slaughtered.... They come to me in my dreams sometimes.”  

John jumped on-board a bus bound for Uganda. He has no idea if his family survived. John says he tries to keep busy by focusing on school and football. “It’s only when I come back to my tent each night... when I’m alone, that I feel sad and wonder where they are.” 

When asked about his hopes for the future, John replies with conviction that he will South Sudan’s president and proceeds to outline his policies for peace and unity, gender equality, and increased school attendance. Also among John’s priorities is road infrastructure to rural areas to improve economic development.

“People must see each other as their brother or sister. If they have disagreements, they must be discussed and worked out. I would also ensure every child gets a meal at school. Without food, they cannot learn. And parents must also send their daughters to school. Sons get priority in South Sudan and that is not right. Girls deserve the same rights as boys.” 

Bidibidi in Uganda’s north is now home to the world’s largest refugee settlement. Sixty-eight per cent of its population are children. Like John, many of them are scared and completely alone. All of them have witnessed or experienced extraordinary violence.

Apartial, an online community of artists, partnered with World Vision to help children in the camp tell their stories through the reproduction of works by internationally renowned contemporary artists

Photo©2017 World Vision, Oscar Durand

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