It may have started like any other day, but this was no ordinary day for a bunch of excited South Sudanese students.
Zimbabwe’s Emma Madziva stands at attention as a medal is pinned on her left breast pocket, just next to her name tag.
The five-feet-three-inches-tall peacekeeper now proudly wears her first-ever United Nations medal, honouring her peacekeeping work in South Sudan’s Unity area.
“We go collecting food items and some money from businessmen who willingly help every time they see us in the market,” Sadiq Khamis cried out to United Nations peacekeepers who had visited Malakia centre, home to some 45 orphans, including him.
A convoy of old landcruisers sweep into the compound at speed. Men in military fatigues jump off the back of the vehicle carrying guns. Most disperse under nearby trees while others stay close by their VIP as he emerges from a shiny black 4-wheel-drive to be greeted by other political leaders.
Twenty-two of them kick the ball and do all the footballing maneuvers, perhaps aspiring to become professional footballers. But only a few professional footballers have done what they do here in Aweil: they train on a pebble-littered rough pitch, barefoot.