More than 12,000 kilometres from the White Nile River in Africa, a Bendigo-based group by the same name is bringing together South Sudanese women from different African dialects, including Dinka, Nuer and Acholi.
Rebecca Wuor, who speaks the Nuer and Dinka dialect, says in Africa many of these groups are in conflict, but in regional Victoria they cook, learn and create side-by-side, sharing their collective African culture.
“We are different culture and different dialects, but all the South Sudanese people we are connected by that river, it is our connection together,” Ms Wuor said.
“All African women, anyone, not just Sudanese, are welcome to our group.”
The group creates woven and beaded items together and sells them out of the newly renovated Beehive Building in the centre of town.
Abuk Chol Malual creates woven disks from grass straw and yarn.
“We do it in our culture so you can give it to your child or your friend like a gift,” Ms Chol Malual said.
“And then the one that is flat you can hang it up in your house, the on6e that’s round you can do maize or some other foodstuff with it.”
The women create the woven discs using grass straw and yarn.
She learnt the skill from her mother back in Africa.
“When I came back to Australia I remembered how I used to do the weaving with my mum, and then I was like, ‘Let me have a try of what my mum used to do back in the day’,” Ms Chol Malual said.
“It’s our culture, so that’s why I find it important to keep on doing the activities that I do in Bendigo, it keeps me busy as well, and it’s something fun to do.”
Abuol Mayen Mabior also learnt the technique of creating beaded wearable art from her mother in Africa.
“The young boys and girls will wear them and then go for a cultural dance,” Ms Mayen Mabior said.
“It’s a beautiful thing to make you look beautiful while you are dancing your cultural dance.”
Keeping culture alive
Ms Mayen Mabior said practising these cultural skills keeps her connected to her African roots.
“You can’t let your culture go, it’s connected to me, so I like to practice it all the time to keep it going,” Ms Mayen Mabior said.
“It’s for the new generation to learn from, it’s for our children to see us make it and for them to learn so that next time they can be like, ‘My mum used to make this one for me, let me do it for my child as well’.”
Ms Wuor said she loved living in Bendigo, but she sometimes felt judged for her background.
“When something happens, they say ‘These people are like this’, but we need to be seen as human beings, not nothing,” Ms Wuor said.
“It’s very important to us to make all the Sudanese women in Bendigo to be together.
“We can’t forget our culture. We need to be together and, we need to make together, to feel like Sudanese women.”