Just before sunset, Dadaab’s unforgiving landscape is transformed into football pitches and volleyball courts. And for a few hours a day, laughter and joy penetrate the air in the refugee camp.
Players arrive an hour before the match to prepare the fields. They draw lines in the sand that serve as the boundaries for the pitch, removing thorny branches, large rocks and any other obstacles. After a few minutes of play, however, gusts of wind erase the lines. That is where spectators come in, doing double duty as supporters and linesmen.
A few miles away, on the eastern side of the camp, South Sudanese refugees string up a volleyball net on two wooden posts. Teams are inclusive with male and female players and coaches.
“When we play, it’s just us and the ball. The only thing we worry about is getting it between the goal. When we play, there is no refugee, no hunger, no thirst. Just happiness.” Mahad, 17.