ONAR A/W 2016 collection film by Jesse Auersalo
Nykhor Paul, the girl form South Sudan
Text by Pirita Litmanen, Photography by Federico Cabrera
We met Nykhor back in 2013 while shooting the cover of REVS #10. She told us about a project she started – We Are Nilotic. Today that small project has grown massively and is raising awareness while Nykhor is walking on the top catwalks. Go check the we are nilotic Facebook page and read our interview with Nykhor from 2013, here:
Can you tell us about your background?
I am originally from South Sudan. I left the country in 1995 to a refugee camp in Pinoda, Ethiopia.
I moved to New York in 2008 to pursue modeling. I am based here now.
Can you tell something about your home country people don’t usually know?
What people don’t know about South Sudan is that we are self-sustained and one with nature. We are seasonal travelers, “nomads”. We travel every season to a new place, it can be summer at the Nile or picking up fruits in the jungle. We are very simple people.
What did you dream about when you were a kid? What do you dream about now?
When I was a kid, I dreamt of giving my mother a better life. I wanted to give her a break from refugee camps and to take care of her. Today I find myself wanting to do something similar, but to my entire country. I want to help giving the next generation of South Sudan a better life, a life that they can live among each other as one.
What has been the hardest thing you’ve gone through in your life?
Coming to America without my family was by far the hardest thing I have gone through, but now I look at how God has blessed and protected me through my journey. I am grateful. I always worked hard, studied hard and kept disciplined. I was so focused on going back home.
How did modeling come to your life? What do you enjoy most about it?
At 14, I was scouted by FORD Models Chicago while I lived in Nebraska. I later moved to New York. Modeling has given me a chance to transform myself into so many different art forms. I love that each day I get an opportunity to meet someone from a different country and hear different languages. I love human interaction. I get to see amazing artists and most importantly to watch collections that make your jaw drop. Modeling has also brought me financial stability to support my family back home.
What do you value most in life?
My family, friends and my country are the things I value most in life. To help my country and South Sudanese people, I started an organization called We Are Nilotic, to help bring awareness to the Genocide that’s going on in South Sudan. The meaning of Nilotic is relating to the river Nile or to Nile region of Africa, we are People of the Nile.
I brought together international South Sudanese Models, actors, comedians, students and all other South Sudanese women who believe in what we’re doing. The aim for this organization is to end tribalism in South Sudan. We want to work on building a better future for the next generation. To think global, so we can build a better country.
I would like to see We Are Nilotic become a world organization that helps to give women of South Sudan a voice to express.
What are you most grateful for?
I am grateful to my two moms, my African mom and my white mom, and all the great teachers who have helped me understand the complicity of life and how to stay humble.
Photography: Federico Cabrera
Styling: Jasmin Mishima
Model: Nykhor Paul
Make-Up: Kanako Yoshida
Hair Pieces: Kunio Kohzaki