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Read Cara Delevingne’s Travel Diary from Uganda on “The Week that Changed her Life” with South Sudanese Refugee Girls



An exclusive travel diary from Uganda, where South Sudanese refugee girls want nothing more than to learn.

Popular British model and actress Cara Delevingne spent a week in Uganda, a trip she describes to Marie Claire as she “one of the most incredible experiences of my life.” Cara was with Girl Up and UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency, to learn more about what these organisations do in response to the refugee crisis and their plans to help provide education for refugee girls.

Girls forced out of their homes, girls who just want an education, girls who worry about being pressured to marry before they even hit puberty.

Their week-long trip began with visits to refugee entry points in northern Uganda along the border of South Sudan. They walked across the same bridges as the 460,000 refugees (an average of 2,000 per day) who have entered Uganda in the last six months alone.

At Bidibidi refugee settlement, I got to sit with a class of girls who shared their stories of fleeing home in South Sudan and talked openly about what they need to continue attending school. There was one girl, she had this incredible fire, and this very strong voice when she said, “It’s very simple. This is what we need: We need books. We need uniforms.” That’s when it hit me. What they need seems so easy, so small to us, but it’s so important to them. It makes you feel spoiled because all they want is an education, and that’s something so many of us take for granted.

The eighth-grade girls at Nyumanzi refugee settlement stood out to me because they could have been middle school girls anywhere in the world. They kept huddling and laughing together when we tried to talk to them as a group. After a bit, I turned to Girl Up deputy director Anna Blue and said, “Let’s dance!” I got in the front of the room, and we started teaching them the electric slide. We even did a mannequin challenge:

They even did a mannequin challenge

Read more here


  1. Nationalsquirrel

    January 20, 2017 at 3:56 am

    Ugh lord. It’s another Savior Barbie selfies album.

    • Anna

      January 20, 2017 at 11:05 am

      i always wonder if they would allow any African to enter orphanages/vulnerable places in developed countries and treat their kids as the objects / props they treat African and Asian kids as. Would they be ok if we used images of their children like they do of ours – surely there are child protection laws against this for them but our kids are fair game? Some of these end up treating it as an “experience” . NOTE TO ALL ASPIRING SAVIORS OF AFRICA : your one week “vacation” in a developing country isn’t going to sustainably change the lives of these kids. You could do much more impact for the community by supporting established local organisations on the ground already making an impact or just stay home and lobby your countries to make better policies that foster real economic partnership and cancel all the predatory deals some of them have in place.
      We have had enough of this western savior complex syndrome.

    • Sisi

      January 20, 2017 at 1:17 pm

      I agree with you, but a lot of people like Cara (people in developed countries more generally – even diaspora children) live in a bubble unaware of the magnitude of their priviledge. How do they even begin to understand the realitites of what some children in Africa face without seeing it up close and personally. Even with the old school pictures that were traditionally used as part of campaigns there are some people who will still tell you why can’t their parents just get a job, we shouldn’t be sending them money blah blah blah. Surely there are issues around child protection that should be explored but we shouldn’t be quick to condemn people who genuinely want to experience the life of a refugee in Africa etc. Their involvement a lot of the time isn’t sustainable but it is often life changing for them, their outlook on life and how they will even treat people in their local communities plus it brings awareness and necessary funding. It’s a bit of a catch 22. If they see themselves as saviours after such an experience then that is a different conversation and is indicative of a deeper problem.

  2. jam

    January 20, 2017 at 5:56 am

    TO BE HONEST WHO IS GOING TO FIX THE SOUTH SUDAN ‘BEAUTY’ PROBLEM ??! (Themselves or maybe Education is going to luminate their faces a bit) — (This is another huddle will have to face in Africa 2017)

    • The Real Oma

      January 20, 2017 at 9:32 am


    • Sisi

      January 20, 2017 at 12:53 pm


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