“We want the fashion industry to understand as a South Sudan woman, I am not just another model who is pretty, I have a story, I have an identity, and this is what is happening,” says DJ and fashion model Mari Malek. South Sudan became the newest country in the world when it gained its independence from Sudan in 2011. Even after 30 years of civil war, the human rights situation in the northeastern African country continues to be dire: internal conflicts that are still forcing the population to flee, a literacy rate of just 27% and rampant gender inequality (only 33% of girls are in school) makes the situation in South Sudan a crisis.
Malek called other fellow models from South Sudan, all of who arrived as refugees to the United States as children, to put their famous faces to a good cause: raising money and awareness for education and the rights of women and girls back home.
“Now that I have been given this privilege to gain education in the West, unfortunately the situation isn’t better in my home country, so when Mari told me about Stand4Ed I jumped on board because it’s something that is close and dear to my heart,” says model Mari Agory. “We were all given this opportunity to come out here and so why not give back to our people back home? And not forget about them.”
Malek’s organization, Stand 4 Education, is directly impacting communities in Bor, South Sudan by funding the Malek primary school. Learn more about the models and their story here.
Video shot by Brendan Finn and Danilo Lauria. Edited by Carlos Navarrete and Nuria Net. Produced by Nuria Net.