Dear Friends and Supporters,
As we enjoy the freedom that the summer season brings, seven girls in South Sudan are also experiencing a new freedom – the freedom to return to their studies. Daniel Majok Gai, our South Sudan Country Director, and PESS were sought after by 7 of the 14 displaced high-school aged Ayak Anguei Girls Primary School girls who are being sponsored as part of our Girls Leadership Program. The girls left the IDP and refugee camps to continue their education by taking the risk in finding Daniel. Daniel was also hard at work locating all the sponsored secondary girls. They connected and the girls have returned to their studies at Malek Secondary Academy, which is temporarily being housed in Juba. Daniel remains dedicated to locating the remaining seven girls and ensuring they are safe and free to continue their education.
We are also in the midst of collaborating with a number of wonderful organizations for our Leadership Program. Among these organizations are Seeds of Exchange, She’s the First, Nepal Foundation, Hope for Humanity, and the African Community Center, ECDC. With this partnership, we will be sharing our HIV/AIDS & Menstrual Hygiene Management Pad Vocational Program and our Student Leadership Program with the hopes to educate and empower women and girls all over the world! The feedback from these organizations will allow us to modify and improve the program. Although we were unable to implement the program in South Sudan this year, we are looking forward to hitting the ground running February 2015.
Daniel returned to Colorado for his annual trip this past month and shared with us the aftereffects of the terrible conflict that occurred in Bor where our PESS offices were located in South Sudan. Despite the looting and destruction, he still carried a message of hope that the people of South Sudan are returning, and as before will continue to rebuild the country as they did after the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed in 2005.
As you enjoy the freedom of the summer days, please think of the girls in Bor and Juba, South Sudan that so desperately want the freedom to be educated and contribute to the future of their country. We at PESS thank you for your support and hope you enjoy your summer season.
With Peace and Gratitude on behalf of the Girls,
Project Education South Sudan
Spring marks new beginnings, and here at PESS, we are enjoying the joys of the season: blooming flowers, budding trees-- even office cleaning! For the people of South Sudan, this spring also brings a fresh start, as many begin to rebuild their livelihoods after the devastating violence that occurred this past December.
As you know from our last update, Alex and I had planned to be in South Sudan now, implementing Girls Leadership, Feminine Hygiene, and HIV/AIDS programs with our partners in South Sudan. While I am disappointed that December’s violence has pushed back project implementation to 2015, I am still so proud to hear about all of the hard work of our in-country partners. Daniel Majok Gai, our South Sudan Country Director, has been working tirelessly, leading his fellow countrymen and women through the recovery process. When I spoke to him, he told me about his visit to Juba and Bor and happily reported that the situation seems to have stabilized, citizens carrying out their daily activities “normally” and “peacefully.” Government offices have reopened and are functioning as usual. Populations in the towns continue to increase, as those who were displaced feel safe enough to return to their homes. And, as we at PESS were thrilled to hear, schools throughout the conflict-affected regions are opening their doors for the next semester—including Malek Academy and Langbaar Modern Secondary. Malek Academy is temporarily housed in Juba due to the extreme damage done to the school during the conflict in Bor.
Speaking of the girls, they are more excited than ever to start school again! Abuk, a continuing student at Malek Academy explains that she is eager to sit her Form 3 Final examinations this June and continue her education to realize her dreams of becoming a nurse. She is well on her way: the deputy principal at Malek describes her as an outstanding student, outshining all the boys in science classes. Grace, a new student at Malek Academy is so excited for the opportunity to start at the prestigious school, expressing her gratitude for the “tireless dedication and hard work” of the sponsors who enable her to receive her education. We are so grateful to She’s the First, Global Giving Girl Effect, and sponsors Joanna and Sue, who will all continue to support these girls and their classmates through their education at Malek Academy, and others at Langbaar Modern Secondary and Bor College High.
The teachers at the schools are equally excited to continue business as usual, for they know the importance of education as this country rebuilds. The principal of Malek Academy expresses his gratitude to the donors, explaining that the support is “encouraging to these young girls,” in this time of strife. He is eager to cooperate with PESS to realize the common goal: “The success of girls’ higher education in South Sudan.”
The seeds for a fresh start in South Sudan are there; now they need to be cultivated. Please remember the girls of South Sudan this spring season; together, we can help them grow and thrive as they become the future leaders of South Sudan.
As always, thank you for your continued support in spreading education and hope! We hope that this spring brings you opportunities for growth and renewal, just as it does for the girls of South Sudan.
Media and Communications
We were almost there! We were supposed to take off to South Sudan with our team and thanks to you we almost met our funding goal. But unexpected circumstances took us by surprise.
Our last update we were ready to go to South Sudan in February to begin implementing the Girls Student Leadership, HIV/AIDS Youth Program, Menstruation Management Workshop, Vocational Pad Production Program, drill our eighth water well, complete the last four classrooms at Tong Pagook Primary School, and plant two school community gardens.
But on December 15, 2013 civil unrest in the capital of Juba escalated into tribal and political violence that spread two days later to Bor, Jonglei State where our PESS offices and home of our South Sudan Director is located.
Daniel Majok Gai, our in country Director, his wife Yom and baby son Thon were caught in the violence and had to go into the bush to hide for safety. Daniel led 100 people to safety where they had to live nine days in the swampland without clean water and hardly any food to sustain them.
We, in the US, felt helpless as we made cell contact with Daniel and he described the violence and death occurring. PESS worked tirelessly with the US State Department during the Christmas season to evacuate Daniel and his family. Daniel’s 10 month old son became critically ill and dehydrated and would not make it if they weren’t airlifted out. They caught a bush plane while under heavy gunfire at the Bor Airstrip to get the baby to Juba Hospital.
To hear and view more on Daniel’s harrowing escape, the following links are live for you to visit: NPR, CPR Colorado Matters, Al Jazeera America, and The Denver Post.
Daniel, Yom, and baby Thon are now safely in Nairobi. I joined to assist them in getting the family temporarily settled until things in Bor settle down and the villagers return.
Daniel is returning to Juba and Bor, South Sudan the end of March and will assess the schools and see how many villagers are there and how many students are able to attend school.
We don’t give up! We have been working in South Sudan since 2005 right after the signing of the CPA with constant challenges and keep going back and making a difference! We are serve 3,000 children and have made such an impact on girl’s education that the Ministry of Education came to visit Daniel and see if we could work together!
The culture is changing as the girls realize they have a right to education. It’s folks like you who are making the investment to help them make that change.
Let’s give the girls HOPE once again. As they return from the refugee camps to their village schools, let’s give them the HOMECOMING PRESENT of Girls Leadership Development! After all, they are the future leaders of South Sudan and they want to lead the way to change!
Carol Francis-Rinehart US Executive Director
We’re ready to go! Ready to implement! Over two years of preparation and now we’re ready to head to South Sudan to make these plans a reality. Interns from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver have worked on research, writing, and programme planning - the result is a comprehensive programme and implementation handbook for Student Leadership Development, including a newly revised HIV/AIDS and Menstrual Hygiene Management component. Over 1500 students at four different schools will be reached by the programme
Two PESS team members, Laura and Alex, will be traveling to South Sudan in the spring to implement the programme in Jonglei State. Laura and Alex, two returned Peace Corps volunteers, will draw on their experience in the field to successfully facilitate the programme and coordinate all of the logistics on the ground. Working closely with Daniel, the two will utilize the Training of Trainers (ToT) model to prepare the local teachers and community health workers and ensure sustainability.
The Student Leadership programme aims to develop and enhance leadership skills among teachers, prefects, and the student body. The participants will identify role models, learn decision making skills, and develop the ability to mobilize others, culminating in the design and implementation of a student-led Civic Action Project. The incorporation of HIV/AIDS education and Menstrual Hygiene Management will round out the programme plan and encourage healthy lifestyles for the participants. Further, the MHM portion will provide vocational training for girls and mothers who wish to sell sanitary pads as an enterprise. Not only will the participants learn new skills sets, but they will also create for themselves to income generation.
Executive Director, Carol Francis-Rinehart, is going to South Sudan in February to meet with Daniel and coordinate plans with the various ministries. She will also meet with Bor College High School to vet the school for possible inclusion in the Student Leadership Development programme.
We look forward to bringing home video and photos to share with you all!
We still your help! …to raise funds for two women & three girl leadership mentors and garden tools for the student’s community civic engagement garden!
From our PESS family to yours, we wish you a joyous Holiday season and a prosperous New Year.
Carol Francis-Rinehart-US Director
Daniel Majok Gai-South Sudan Director
Anna is in computer class!
It’s always exciting to see our students in South Sudan excelling both academically and personally. As part of our goal to foster leadership development in our girls, our team is especially proud when we witness them lead their fellow classmates with confidence and determination. Recently, we were thrilled to learn about Anna Angeth Awan, a former student at Ayak Anguei Girls’ School, working hard in computer class—an extremely rare opportunity for any girl in South Sudan! Anna is a very special young lady, who has been with PESS since her early years in primary school. We are so happy to continue to support her today, as she attends one of the most prestigious secondary schools in South Sudan—Malek Academy!
In total, PESS has 8 former Ayak Anguei students sponsored in secondary school. Right now, they are sitting for mid-term exams! Join us in wishing them luck as they continue to break barriers in a country where less than 1% of girls graduate high school. Big thanks to all of you for working alongside us in our dream to empower girls through education!
Our South Sudan Director, Daniel Majok Gai, recently made his yearly visit to Colorado! He was with the US team for three weeks and had the opportunity to share incredible stories of triumph, determination, and resilience from the field. Fortunately, we were able to capture Daniel’s passion for girls’ education in this short video. If you haven’t seen it already, be sure to check it out—it’s a great way to see for yourself how education is changing lives in South Sudan.
Thank you for your continued support. Without you, none of this would be possible. For more updates, check out our Facebook page.
-The PESS Team
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