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Sudan: The Ancient Nubian Pyramids at...
Meroe
By sorinfurcoi
21 Apr 2015

More than 200km from the Sudanese capital Khartoum, the remains of an ancient city rise from the arid and inhospitable terrain like a science-fiction film set. Nestled between sand dunes, the secluded pyramids seem to have been forgotten by the modern world, with no nearby restaurants or hotels to cater to tourists. The Nubian Meroe pyramids, much smaller but just as impressive as the more famous Egyptian ones, are found on the east bank of the Nile river, near a group of villages called Bagrawiyah. The pyramids get their name from the ancient city of Meroe, the capital of the Kingdom of Kush, an ancient African kingdom situated in what is now the Republic of Sudan. Around 1000 BCE, after the fall of the 24th Egyptian dynasty, the Nubian Kingdom of Kush arose as the leading power in the middle Nile region. The Kushite kings took over and ruled much of Egypt from 712 to 657 BCE. In 300 BCE, when the capital and royal burial ground of the kingdom moved to the Meroe region, the pharaonic tradition of building pyramids to encapsulate the tombs of rulers continued here.

FULL ARTICLE AVAILABLE ON REQUEST

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Meroe Pyramids 01
Meroe
By sorinfurcoi
28 Mar 2015

A local guide offers camel rides to tourists and visitors.

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Meroe Pyramids 02
Meroe
By sorinfurcoi
28 Mar 2015

Locals offer camel rides to tourists and visitors. Here they wait for clients under the hot sun.

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Meroe Pyramids 03
Meroe
By sorinfurcoi
28 Mar 2015

The royal pyramids at Meroe were built in Nubia 800 years after the Egyptians finished building theirs.

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Meroe Pyramids 04
Meroe
By sorinfurcoi
28 Mar 2015

The royal pyramids at Meroe were built in Nubia 800 years after the Egyptians finished building theirs.

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Meroe Pyramids 05
Meroe
By sorinfurcoi
28 Mar 2015

These the Meroe pyramids are among the best preserved in Sudan.

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Meroe Pyramids 06
Meroe
By sorinfurcoi
28 Mar 2015

There are more than 230 pyramids in Sudan, stretching across the ancient Nubian kingdom.

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Meroe Pyramids 07
Meroe
By sorinfurcoi
28 Mar 2015

The pyramids are the burial site for more than 40 Nubian kings and queens

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Meroe Pyramids 08
Meroe
By sorinfurcoi
28 Mar 2015

Through the years the pyramids have been plundered of all their wealth.

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Meroe Pyramids 09
Meroe
By sorinfurcoi
28 Mar 2015

Some pyramids have been partially restored, looking new in comparison with their neighbours.

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Meroe Pyramids 10
Meroe
By sorinfurcoi
28 Mar 2015

Excavation of the pyramids began only in the middle of the 19th century.

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Meroe Pyramids 11
Meroe
By sorinfurcoi
28 Mar 2015

Through the years, the pyramids have been plundered of all their wealth.

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Meroe Pyramids 12
Meroe
By sorinfurcoi
28 Mar 2015

The pyramids get their name from the ancient city of Meroe, the capital of the Kingdom of Kush, an ancient African kingdom situated in what is now the Republic of Sudan.

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Meroe Pyramids 13
Meroe
By sorinfurcoi
28 Mar 2015

Renewed restoration and preservation efforts are under way. Still, visitors leave their mark, etching their names into bricks.

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Meroe Pyramids 14
Meroe
By sorinfurcoi
28 Mar 2015

Renewed restoration and preservation efforts are under way. Still, visitors leave their mark, etching their names into bricks.

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Meroe Pyramids 15
Meroe
By sorinfurcoi
28 Mar 2015

Between 1800 and 1870, Italian explorer Giuseppe Ferlini smashed the top of 40 pyramids to get to their treasure.

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Meroe Pyramids 16
Meroe
By sorinfurcoi
28 Mar 2015

'This is our history. Here our ancestors are buried,' said Abdullah who lives in Al Tarabil village, a few kilometres away from the site of the pyramids.

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Meroe Pyramids 17
Meroe
By sorinfurcoi
28 Mar 2015

What the Italian explorer Giuseppe Ferlini discovered after smashing the top of 40 pyramids was taken back to British and German museums.

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Meroe Pyramids 18
Meroe
By sorinfurcoi
28 Mar 2015

The pyramids are located northeast of Sudan near the river Nile.

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Sudanese Sufis Attempt to "Reach God"...
Khartoum
By Mohammed Abuamrain
23 Mar 2015

Khartoum, Sudan
March 23, 2015

Al-Samaniya is one of the most prevalent Sufi orders in Sudan. Followers of this Tariqa, young and old alike, attempt to reach God by reiterating "There is no God but Allah" while bowing repetitively.

Video shows Samaniya members performing a ceremonial prayer at a mosque in Khartoum. It also includes an interview with a clerical member of the order, Sheikh Jaafar Mohammed, who explains the devotional practices and beliefs of the Samaniya order.

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The Rise of Nuba Wrestling in Sudan
Khartoum
By Ashraf Idris
16 Feb 2015

February 6, 2015
Khartoum, Sudan

Nuba wrestling, a traditional sport practiced by tribes in the Nubian mountains, is gaining huge popularity throughout Sudan. The aim of the contest is to slam your opponent to the ground. Similar to sumo wrestling, there is no boxing system and any strikes are essentially part of the grappling.

Traditional wrestling is an integral part of life for tribal communities in Sudan. It is a chance to show your virility and strength. These forms of wrestling are known throughout the country and are now becoming increasingly popular in the capital Khartoum.

As Numeiry Koukou, a winning wrestler says, “There is no difference between the forms of wrestling practiced in Khartoum and those practiced in the mountains. The only difference is that [in the Nubian mountains] there are women who sing during the wrestling. You can find your siblings and uncles near you. Here, the audience replaces the singing women and your family. It supports you and makes you feel that you have to prove to them that you are a man.”

The Sudanese are hoping to export Nuba wrestling and claim to have participated in tournaments in Turkey, Japan, and Korea.

SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Hamad Youssef, Wrestling Fan

“Sudanese wrestling is popular. It includes people from all races, like the national team. You will find people from all races – black, white, red, blue. Before, it was only practiced in the Nubian mountains, but it expanded to include the Hawazma and all the other tribes.”

“I used to wrestle when I was a young boy. Back then I used to herd cows at the edge of the mountains. But now I have grown older and one’s looks change at an old age. As the saying goes, “Only the palm trees in the valley die with their original color”. I have quit wrestling and become a wrestling fan. I am only a fan. I cannot take my clothes off to wrestle. When I take my clothes off it is only to take a bath.”

“Thanks be to God, I am a fan of wrestling. I hope that wrestling moves forward, develops, and become successful outside Sudan. Currently we have a national team at a training camp. You will watch it here in the next few days.”

SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Numeiry Koukou, AKA Mudiriyyah (District), Winning Wrestler

“It is not necessary that a wrester always wins; sometimes he loses and sometimes he wins. You benefit from losing. You know your points of weakness. You cannot always be victorious. You would be happy if you won all the time, but if you lose you should not be upset, because you will benefit from losing and know your points of weakness. My nickname is Mudiriyyah (District), which belonged to my father before me. I was injured during an official game with the Lion Heart club and have recovered from injury. It was a tournament match.”

“Last week, my fitness was not very good. I thought about this and I insisted to come here and I said that I must win, in order to prove to my fans that I am here.”

“In the Nubian Mountains, we have forms of traditional wrestling that each tribe practices as a part of its own customs and religious rituals, such as the one practiced in the autumn. These forms of wrestling are talked about in all of Sudan. Even in peripheral areas and in Khartoum, they have all heard about this. There is no difference between the forms of wrestling practiced in Khartoum those practiced in the mountains. The only difference is that [in the Nubian mountains] there are women who sing during the wrestling. You can find your siblings and uncles near you. Here, the audience replaces the singing women and your family. It supports you and makes you feel that you have to prove to them that you are a man.”

SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Adam Isshaq, Defeated Wrestler

“You cannot know who the winner is before the wrestling match is over. You cannot know whether you will beat this man or he will win over you. You can only know when the round is over. But you expect to win more than you expect to lose.”

SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Hassan Abdel Majid, Head of the Nubian Wrestling Foundation

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“This game, Sudanese wrestling, started in the south Kurdufan area, the area of the Nubian mountains and south Kurdufan. It was a local sport, which moved from the province of Kurdufan to the province of Khartoum. The government has paid special interest to this sport, which now has a local federation, the Khartoum Federation of Sudanese Wrestling. This game is an authentic Sudanese game, which symbolizes insight, strength and youth.”

“In the province of Khartoum, [wrestlers] from the south, north and west of Kurdufan represent this great legacy. You can see the interest that the government has paid to this sport in this stadium. This stadium is dedicated to Sudanese wrestling. The government also started a federation that sponsors this activity. The government has given attention to all sports, especially Sudanese wrestling, it is a pure Sudanese sport. We are exporting this sport to the entire world, God willing.”

“We participated in tournaments in Turkey, Japan and Korea. In a few days, a Sudanese wrestler will play against the champion of Japan, who has won four medals. This stadium will host a Sudanese-Japanese match. God willing, we will win this match.”

“People from different countries love this wrestling. Most ambassadors who work in Khartoum are interested in this sport. Many foreigners and Europeans come to this Sudanese forum.”

“It is a distinguished sport. It is a pure Sudanese game. It does not resemble American or Japanese wrestling. This is pure Sudanese wrestling. It is the same type of wrestling but in the Nubian mountains it is held in the outdoors. Here it is organized within a federation and according to laws and charts. In south Kurdufan, it is held in the valleys, plains and the wilderness. Here, there is a stadium that hosts this sport.”

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Sudan: Surviving Despite the Conflict
Nuba Mountains, South Kordofan
By Giovanni Diffidenti
06 Feb 2015

The Nuba Mountains rise from the semi-arid savannah of South Kordofan, one of the largest states of Sudan bordering what is now the Republic of South Sudan. The population is dominated by over 50 distinct ethnic groups of black African origin collectively known as the Nuba.  Settled small holder farmers, the Nuba have lived alongside a number of Arab pastoralist tribes relatively peacefully for generations. In addition to its remarkably rich and engaging culture, Nuba society is characterised by religious tolerance (there being about equal numbers of Muslims and Christians with many still respecting traditional ancestral beliefs), ethnic diversity and expectations of local accountability and good governance not commonly found elsewhere in the country. It is estimated that as many as three million Sudanese are Nuba, many living in the slums of cities in the north.
 
As with other Sudanese living on the peripheries (including the people of Darfur, Blue Nile, Abyei, Red Sea Hills, and the far north), the people of South Kordofan have been marginalised for generations by the policies of successive Khartoum-based Governments. As a result,  they face restricted educational and employment opportunities, lack of land tenure and huge loss of land to outsider mechanised schemes, social discrimination,  lack of political rights,  banning of local languages from school curricula and ever increasing poverty and frustration.  Failure to bring about any changes through political process and alarm at the undemocratic imposition of Sha’ria law (in 1983) eventually resulted in armed resistance, initially alongside the southern Sudanese insurrection led by Dr John Garang.  In 2005, an internationally brokered “peace agreement” led eventually  to the secession of South Sudan but failed to address the marginalisation of Nuba and other peripheral ethnic groups in (northern) Sudan. 
 
In 2011 the region returned to civil-war  and currently the Nuba opposition are fighting as part of an alliance of northern Sudanese opposition groups resisting the continued oppressive policies of Omar al Bashir’s National Congress Party.  As in Darfur and Blue Nile, the efforts of the Khartoum government to stamp out any opposition have been particularly brutal. An area of some 40,000 square kilometres, home to over a million people, has been effectively surrounded by the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and Government paid militias deprived of any public services (including markets,  transport, power and telecommunications) or access to international or national humanitarian aid. Civilian villages are bombed and shelled daily, hospitals and schools are targeted, hunger is used as a weapon of war, villages are burnt to the ground and captured civilians are routinely tortured, raped and executed. Several thousands of Nuba have died since the war restarted in 2011, over 400,000 have lost their homes and possessions and remain internally displaced with little or no assistance. More than 80,000 are refugees in camps in increasingly insecure border area of South Sudan and this figure is expected to rise significantly.
 
However, despite all these atrocities, the local population continues to demonstrate enormous resilience and a determination to resist the brutal oppression of Bashir’s regime and to help bring about the democratic transformation of Sudan of which they dream. They dig foxholes to reduce the number of deaths from bombs and shells, share food and shelter, and seek refuge in the mountains.  They continue to celebrate their ethnic and cultural diversity and religious tolerance.  And perhaps most remarkably, they continue to show a real readiness for forgiveness. They talk not of revenge but of reconstruction in a united and peaceful Sudan that promotes pluralism, justice, mutual respect and codependence.
 
In a region riddled with conflict, extremism and instability, the people of the Nuba Mountains provide an all too rare alternative narrative. If they can survive this war, perhaps they will also contribute to a longer-term transformation in Sudan that allows genuine African democracy, peaceful coexistence and pluralism to replace conflict and dictatorship.

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South Kordofan, Sudan
By Giovanni Diffidenti
06 Feb 2015

A man lies on the ground as a government Antonov aircraft bomb Kauda Town. Communities have learnt that lying down increases their chances of surviving the devastating shrapnel-filled barrel bombs that remain as the most frequently dropped ordinance to date. In the past three and a half years (up to April 2015), the Sudan Air Force has dropped over 3,700 bombs on civilian sites in the Nuba Mountains. (South Kordofan, Sudan)

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People of Nuba Mountains in Sudan 07
South Kordofan, Sudan
By Giovanni Diffidenti
06 Feb 2015

A displaced woman cries at the news of the death of her son Najamadin, 22 years old, killed by government soldiers while he was taking care of the community’s cattle in Dalami County. His brother Abdulbaghi, who was with him, managed to escape and run back to their makeshift home to tell his mother about the sad news. (South Kordofan, Sudan)

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South Kordofan, Sudan
By Giovanni Diffidenti
06 Feb 2015

Friday prayers are underway at one of the many mosques found throughout the Nuba Mountains, where some 40% of the population are Muslims. During the prayer time, people collected money to help a family who needed a surgical operation. Ahmed Kuwa, a devote local Muslim, says: “They (the regime) are bombing our mosques, killing our Imams, using religion to make war between peaceful neighbors; but this is not God’s Islam.” (South Kordofan, Sudan)

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South Kordofan, Sudan
By Giovanni Diffidenti
06 Feb 2015

People run for cover during a bombardment in Kauda Town. On this particular raid, 12 bombs were dropped in less than 5 minutes, destroying three houses and leaving one man injured. Confirmed reports indicate that between 2012 and 2014, 198 civilians were killed and over 440 seriously injured by bombing and shelling. However actual fatalities have been much higher as many more have died from disease and malnutrition. (South Kordofan, Sudan)

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People of Nuba Mountains in Sudan 17
South Kordofan, Sudan
By Giovanni Diffidenti
06 Feb 2015

A family comes out from a fox hole after protecting themselves from 12 bombs that were dropped in Kauda town center in just five minutes. Local civil society organizations are seeking help to deal with the increasing cases of psycho-social trauma resulting from the constant terror of attack from bombs, shells and rockets. (South Kordofan, Sudan)

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South Kordofan, Sudan
By Giovanni Diffidenti
06 Feb 2015

Yida refugee camp across the international border in Unity State of South Sudan, remains a last resort for many Nuba families. Currently some 66,000 Nuba people are living here as refugees. The camp which itself was bombed by the Sudan Air Force, now faces insecurity challenges from the South Sudan civil war. Due to disagreements over positioning of the camp, neither the UNHCR nor any other international assistance agencies provide any schools to children. Since the camp opened 4 years ago€“, the local Nuba civil society plays an important role in providing education services. (South Kordofan, Sudan)

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People of Nuba Mountains in Sudan 21
South Kordofan, Sudan
By Giovanni Diffidenti
03 Feb 2015

During the early morning of February 3, 2015, an artillery shell blasted through the roof of a house in Um Serdiba village. Nine children were sleeping in a foxhole inside the house, three died immediately. Six children, aged between 2 and 11, survived and lay in Mother of Mercy Hospital with more than 50% of their bodies burned. The next day, another girl died at the hospital, and three other children facing serious burns. The head surgeon of the hospital is not sure if they are going to survive. (South Kordofan, Sudan)

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South Kordofan, Sudan
By Giovanni Diffidenti
02 Feb 2015

Jackson Teamtrust, 7 years old, was wounded by a bomb dropped by the Sudanese government forces in Ragafi village, Umdorein County on the 1st of February, 2015. Between 2012 and 2014, 36 children have been reported killed and 83 seriously injured by the government bombing of civilian targets in the Nuba Mountains. Sadly, the actual casualties since the start of the war (including 2015) is much higher. (South Kordofan, Sudan)

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South Kordofan, Sudan
By Giovanni Diffidenti
02 Feb 2015

An unexploded bomb dropped by the Sudanese government lies in the middle of the field next to a primary health center in South Kordofan. With the Sudanese government also having started to drop cluster bombs on civilian targets, the risks of continuing deaths and injuries from unexploded ordinances will increase. (South Kordofan, Sudan)

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South Kordofan, Sudan
By Giovanni Diffidenti
01 Feb 2015

A Sunday service is held at the Sudanese Church of Christ, one of many Christian denominations found in South Kordofan. More than 300 people attended the service, using biscuits and hibiscus flower juice for the communion. The peaceful co-existence between Muslims and Christians is an important feature of Nuba (and traditionally, Sudanese) society which celebrates ethnic, religious, linguistic and cultural diversity. (South Kordofan, Sudan)

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South Kordofan, Sudan
By Giovanni Diffidenti
30 Jan 2015

Stir Ahmed, 26, is seen inside the cave where she keeps some of her belongings and use as shelter if she can during frequent bombing raids on Tunguli Village, in Dalami County. "€œThe bombing is terrible. It can come anytime. We feel very alone and€“ the world does not care, the Sudanese people do not care." (South Kordofan, Sudan)

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South Kordofan, Sudan
By Giovanni Diffidenti
30 Jan 2015

Displaced Sana Mahjub, 26, cleans the beans for lunch with the help of her children outside the small cave where they now have to live since their village was destroyed. It is estimated that more than 400,000 people living in similar conditions have been  displaced since the war started nearly 4 years ago as a result of targeted bombing, shelling and land attacks by government forces. Dalami County, South Kordofan, Sudan.

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South Kordofan, Sudan
By Giovanni Diffidenti
30 Jan 2015

Alnjama Alzahabia cultural group, meaning Gold Stars, poses for a photo in Dalami County with a typical local backdrop. Music, dance and cultural events are integral to Nuba society and continue to play an important role in countering the psycho-social trauma caused by the war. (South Kordofan, Sudan)

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South Kordofan, Sudan
By Giovanni Diffidenti
29 Jan 2015

Displaced Mary Musa (left), 26, and Khadmalla Abuzet, 18, cook the evening meal of Baliila (maize, sorghum and beans) next to a rocky mountain near Tunguli village. Families move to such shelters in the evenings as night time bombings and shelling become increasingly frequent. (South Kordofan, Sudan)

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South Kordofan, Sudan
By Giovanni Diffidenti
27 Jan 2015

People collect water in Ragafi river bed during the dry season. In many villages, hand water pumps have been destroyed by government forces during land attacks or targeted bombing and shelling on villages. "They (the regime of Omar Bashir) say they are our government, but we want true democracy, not murderers" Awatif Musa, a 48 year old grandmother, says as she waits in line. (South Kordofan, Sudan)

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South Kordofan, Sudan
By Giovanni Diffidenti
27 Jan 2015

A group of women seeks shelter inside a foxhole after a bombing raid. Given the frequency of bombing and shelling of civilian targets, communities depend on fox holes and caves in the mountains to reduce casualties. Women have played a key role in promoting the spread of effective self-protection measures. As bombing and shelling intensity increases, they are having to construct ever larger shelters. (South Kordofan, Sudan)

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South Kordofan, Sudan
By Giovanni Diffidenti
27 Jan 2015

Pastoralist Korie Hassan, 18, and part of his family are moving to seek better grazing and security ahead of the rest of the family and cattle. Traditionally settled Nuba farmers coexist peacefully with livestock pastoralists (many of whom are Arabs) and they are attempting to counteract the government's tactics of arming local militias and promoting ethnic division and conflict. "€œWe do not want war with Nuba people"€ he says, "€œIt is those of Bashir who are making people to fight." (South Kordofan, Sudan)

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South Kordofan, Sudan
By Giovanni Diffidenti
26 Jan 2015

Students at Tangal Model Primary School in Umdorein County look up in the sky concerned that an Antonov airplane is flying over their heads, but cannot see it yet. The original school in Tangal Village was bombed 3 years ago. Since then they have changed location twice. Now they have moved close to a river where the children feel safer. The classrooms are built with grass that the students and their family provided. There are 150 students in total, from kindergarten to the 8th grade class. The teachers are paid with food given by the families of the students. They have been in this location for the last six months. (South Kordofan, Sudan)