Paul Jeffrey is writer and photographer based in the United States. He lived in Central America in the 1980s and 1990s, tracking the church’s role amid revolution and war. Now based in Oregon, he has filed stories from more than 90 countries, focusing on humanitarian issues, women’s rights, and the role of the church in contentious environments. In 2020, he founded Life on Earth Pictures with two colleagues.
One month after two Catholic sisters were executed on a road in South Sudan, their killers remain unidentified, and church leaders are losing patience with an apparent lack of progress in resolving the murder.
Families in Riimenze, South Sudan, were displaced in late 2016 and early 2017 as fighting between government soldiers and rebels escalated.
When the shooting stops, it's eerily silent in Malakal. The quarter million people who once lived here have dispersed to other cities or countries, or to the nearby U.N. base where they live behind barbed wire and heavily armed blue-helmeted soldiers, or to simply living in the bush, trying to stay out of the path of the several armed groups ravaging the countryside. Yet amid the silence a small voice once again speaks. The "Voice of Love" radio station is part of the Catholic Radio Network. The Malakal station – which is also heard in the war-torn Nuba Mountains of Sudan – stays on the air because Italian Comboni Sr. Elena Balatti refuses to let it be quieted.
Several times a week, Sr. Valdete Wilemann watches scores of deported Hondurans walk down the stairs of a U.S. government airplane onto the tarmac of the international airport here. She ushers them into a church-run reception center at the far end of the runway, where the immigrants are welcomed home, offered a quick snack, and have their belts and shoelaces returned. The Scalabrini sister from Brazil has run the Center for Attention to Returned Migrants for 10 years, said she constantly fights seeing her job as routine. "I tell the Lord not to let me grow accustomed to the experience of the migrants