A Memphis Photographer Meets His Exhibit

OBS photographer Jacob Geyer sees his work for the first time

Jacob Geyer is one of the brilliant photographers behind the Yida Photography Exhibit. Right before we finished putting the exhibit together, he was in a car accident that broke his pelvis and temporarily put him in a wheelchair. Last week he got to see his completed work for the first time.

Yida examines the crisis in Sudan through the lives of those who have escaped. The 313 breathtaking images featured in this travelling photography exhibit are part of a collection of 4,535 photos taken in Yida Refugee Camp by Operation Broken Silence’s photographers.

Yida Refugee Camp sits just a few miles south of the international border that divides Sudan and South Sudan. This community is home to tens of thousands of people who have fled the Nuba Mountains of Sudan, where the country’s dictatorship has waged a genocidal war against the Nuba people since 2011. Official humanitarian and media access to the area has been banned by the dictatorship, but this has not stopped the most determined nonprofits and journalists from reaching the Nuba people.

The Nuba people comprise of around 100 African tribal groups who have lived in the fertile and resource-rich Nuba Mountains for over 2,000 years. The estimated one million Christians, Muslims, and those who follow traditional beliefs in this part of Sudan live largely in harmony.

Jacob is part of Operation Broken Silence’s media team that travelled to Yida Refugee Camp in the summer of 2016. On February 10th, 2017, he was in a terrible car accident that will keep him from being fully mobile again for at least 12 months. This was the first time Jacob was able to see the completed project and the impact it is already having.

“For the first time, I was well enough to see my work exposed since it’s opening in February, and I was immediately put back into that refugee camp; the 110 degree days, the children’s laughter, the desperation of thirst, and the welcoming songs of schools.” -Jacob Geyer

This powerful media project was completed in the middle of February 2017, only several days after Jake’s car accident. At the exhibit’s first test showing at a local church here in Memphis, TN, the exhibit raised over $10,000 in just 3 days for our education program in Yida Refugee Camp. This media project that Jacob played a major role in creating is already creating a lasting impact on the ground in Yida.

I stared into the eyes of the people who are forgotten, abandoned, hunted, raped, and driven from their homes, the very eyes that watched their families blown apart, the eyes that saw emaciation take away what they loved most in the world, eyes that saw flames burn their churches, and even their families. On some, you can see the weight, it hangs in their shoulders, it is telling by the iris of their eyes, yet on others, particularly the children, yet, many adults despite their horrid stories, there are smiles; there is hope. — Jacob Geyer

This story-driven exhibit immerses viewers into what life is like as a refugee in Yida. From an in-depth look at the daily experiences of refugees to historical events in the camp, the art is as educational as it is inspirational. Even the design of the exhibit is based off of actual locations in Yida as defined by this photo: raw wood, metal, barbed wire, and vibrant colors.

Photo: Katie Barber and Jacob Geyer, the photographers behind the Yida Photography Exhibit.
“Please, I ask of you, also, to not let these photos be an attestation of to what will soon be gone, lost, extinct. I ask you to help us work for them, help us help themselves, so that peace may reach them; that war would cease, and redemption would flourish; that love, safety, and education would be instilled into their hearts, mind, and bones, so that they may see fruition of their dreams. I ask that you celebrate these photos as something that exists, something that will continue existing, that better moments are yet to come. Help us open the world’s eyes, because we refuse to shut our eyes in the wake of this destruction, and we hope that you will do the same.” — Jacob Geyer

As people who care deeply about Sudan and its people, we should make it a point to spend more time understanding this hope and the progress that is being made on the ground to see peace and justice in Sudan in our lifetime. And we should celebrate the fact that despite the Sudanese government’s genocidal campaign in the Nuba Mountains, the way Sudan is today is not the way it always will be.

Last week we were grateful to not only show Jacob his finished work, but also to host private showings of the Yida Photography Exhibit for churches, community groups, nonprofits, and schools in the Memphis-area to offer them the opportunity to host this powerful media project later this year. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and sign up for email updates to get updates on when and where the exhibit is travelling.

The people of Sudan are overcoming two of the greatest challenges facing humanity today: war and genocide. Operation Broken Silence is working to accelerate their ability to generate lasting change through storytelling, education, advocacy, and emergency relief programs. Here are a few different ways you can join us:

1. See The Yida Photography Exhibit At Good People | Good Beer 2017. Our annual beer tasting event that supports our life-changing programs in Sudan is back for its 5th year! Earlybird tickets are $35 until June 15, 2017 then the price goes up to $45. Last year we sold out with a waiting list, so go ahead and get your tickets now! LEARN MORE »

2. Host The Yida Photography Exhibit. This special exhibit that examines the crisis in Sudan through the eyes of refugees who have escaped is travelling around the Greater Memphis area the rest of the year. If you are interested in hosting the exhibit at your church, university, or organization, please reach out to us. CONTACT US »

3. Join The Heart of Nuba Campaign. If you aren’t in the Memphis-area but still want to get involved, we encourage you to help save lives at the only hospital in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan. LEARN MORE »

You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and sign up for email updates.