Education  Sudan Project #11954

Unleash the leaders: 400 girls in South Sudan

by Project Education South Sudan
Unleash the leaders: 400 girls in South Sudan
Unleash the leaders: 400 girls in South Sudan
Unleash the leaders: 400 girls in South Sudan
Unleash the leaders: 400 girls in South Sudan
Unleash the leaders: 400 girls in South Sudan
Unleash the leaders: 400 girls in South Sudan
Unleash the leaders: 400 girls in South Sudan
Unleash the leaders: 400 girls in South Sudan
Unleash the leaders: 400 girls in South Sudan
Unleash the leaders: 400 girls in South Sudan
Unleash the leaders: 400 girls in South Sudan
Unleash the leaders: 400 girls in South Sudan
Unleash the leaders: 400 girls in South Sudan
Unleash the leaders: 400 girls in South Sudan
Unleash the leaders: 400 girls in South Sudan
Unleash the leaders: 400 girls in South Sudan
Anyier - 10th Grade
Anyier - 10th Grade

Schools were closed by Coronavirus in South Sudan last April. Since there is no widespread internet available to families in homes, there has been no online learning as a substitute for in-school classes. Each family is lucky to have a single cell phone to stay in touch with friends and relatives, so communication with students and their families has been difficult. Schools are now beginning to reopen. For now, only the 8th and 12th year students have returned. These two grade levels must take required national exams at the end of the year, so the government is allowing them to return to school early so that they can prepare. Other grades will reopen in the early months of next year. 

Even though schools have been closed and contact with students is limited, Daniel, our in-country director, has been able to give out personal care supplies to students who have come to the office a few at a time. He has also been able to distribute solar lights so they can continue to study in the evenings. As students have come into the office, Daniel has interviewed some of them to find out how they are doing. Let me tell you about one of these students Daniel interviewed over the summer. Her name is Anyier, currently in 10th grade, and a member of the Lion Group. Each PESS supported student is part of a girl group for camaraderie and mutual support. 

Anyier shared some of her personal passions in her interview. One thing stood out: Anyier mentioned a woman in leadership whom she admires, Amuor Pach, former Minister of Health for the region of Jonglei. Anyier says the reason she admires this woman is because of her education. Anyier goes on to say that this gives her great motivation to struggle to go further so that she can be like Amuor Pach, or maybe to hold a position higher than this hero of hers. Wow! Anyier does not want to be ordinary. She is determined to join the group of women who will change their young country for the better. 

Here’s the thing though – a few years back Anyier wanted to go to school and she fully expected that her father would see her eagerness to learn and would send her to school. However, as Anyier says in her own words, “…shockingly, he chose my younger brother to go to school and I was left behind with household chores.” This outcome is not unusual in Anyier’s world. What made the difference for Anyier is that PESS offered her a scholarship so that she could stay in school. How can a parent turn that down, even a parent who might favor educating sons rather than daughters? You see, most South Sudanese families are cash-strapped and have to choose. 

I hope you grasp the significance – your support is helping Anyier prepare for future leadership. Would you like to support the Lion Group with Anyier as one of its members? You can become part of a support team who each give $35 per month to provide scholarship funds and after-school support for the Lions… and Anyier. She won’t forget it!

Daniel with Lion Group - South Sudanese Scholars
Daniel with Lion Group - South Sudanese Scholars
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Students come to the office to get solar lights.
Students come to the office to get solar lights.

Do you wonder how students in South Sudan are faring during this world-wide pandemic?

American public life has been upended during four months of wrestling with Coronavirus, not always successfully. The past four months have seemed like four years to many of us. We are quite ready to put this behind us and get back to normal – whatever normal will be, once we wake from the nightmare. Could we expect that things would be any different in South Sudan?

As we might guess, the Coronavirus does not favor one country over another. The difference is that some countries have much more capacity to deal with a pandemic than others. As Covid-19 began sweeping across the globe, South Sudan was ill prepared. Its few hospitals have little modern equipment and equally few medications and hospital supplies. The vice president in charge of the South Sudan Covid-19 response announced early during the pandemic that South Sudan had four respirators in the country – yes, four. Just weeks later, the country learned that this same vice president, as well as all the other members of his Covid-19 task force, had contracted the Coronavirus. South Sudan’s infection case numbers (adjusted by population) land around the midpoint among nations, but testing is so low that we do not likely know the extent of the disease’s impact.

Schools have been closed since the 2nd week of April in South Sudan. There are no Zoom class sessions. Families do not have Internet in their homes, so online learning is unavailable – no teachers, no fellow students, no Wikipedia, or Girl Group meetings. Households are lucky to have a single cell phone, so it has been difficult to even contact students. There is no electricity in homes. Most of the girls are expected to do household chores during the day, so they cannot study before 7 pm when dark falls suddenly on the equator. Then it is too dark to study. Daniel, director of the PESS program, came up with the idea of replenishing the girls' supply of solar lights so they could study in the evenings. He was able to buy 50 of these in Juba, a hundred miles south, and get them transported to Bor, where he works. The solar lights are a big hit, and these gave Daniel, along with his team, a chance to reconnect with the students and encourage them to keep writing and learning. The school year in South Sudan operates all year with one-month breaks between each three-month term.

South Sudan recently allowed the reopening of high school to graduating seniors only. This concession was made because graduates must take national exams at the end of the calendar year and they need to prepare for those important exams. The rest of the students tell Daniel they are eager to get back to school – just like American students, and like students here, they are also likely a bit apprehensive.

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The Peace Group
The Peace Group

It’s Bortown, a town of about 400,000, in South Sudan. The new school year started last month, and many students have come into town from their home villages and will live with friends or relatives for the 3-month long school term. A highlight for some of these students is gathering on weekends or after school at the Project Education South Sudan (PESS) office for mutual support, discussion, and mentoring from the PESS staff. They discuss world issues, as well as qualities they admire in their favorite local leaders. PESS is harnessing the power of community by organizing girls into girl groups – a group of about 10 girls who support each other in their daily challenges of school and home. 

Meet one of the girl groups – 11 girls attending 6 different high schools in Bortown (pictured here). Many wear the uniform of their school, making for a colorful gathering. This group named themselves the Peace Group. Their reason: “We name our girls’ group like that because our country has been in war and this is affecting our education as girls in general. Currently our government has signed peace and we girls need to spread peace in our schools, beginning among us students and extended into the communities and to our neighbors. Peace is good, when people live in peace life become meaningful.”

After school, or on weekends, when they meet, the group is working on articles for a Girl Gazette. Learning how to write a news story will be a first for many of them. In the future, you may hear some of their stories, so stay tuned. Each of them deeply appreciates your participation in their educational success. You would be amazed at their enthusiasm to learn. By giving to PESS through GlobalGiving, you are supporting these talented young women, aspiring to become wise and competent leaders in their community. Thank you. Your gift helps the Peace Group students stay in school and prepare for the future.

Would you like to participate at a deeper level? Consider becoming a regular part of one of these girl groups, by making a monthly gift of $35. If you let us know your intent, we will help you set up a regular gift and will send you updates on that group's progress.

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Akuot
Akuot

In the US, we just celebrated Thanksgiving. We on the PESS team were remembering things and people to be thankful for. Akuot is one! A current PESS student, here is some of her story. 

Akuot is 17, lives in Bortown, South Sudan, and receives school support through PESS. Akuot is a peacemaker in her class, settling disputes between classmates and promoting unity among students. What an example – in a country with such a violent history of civil war, often growing out of tribalism! Akuot sets an example for other students to follow by engaging in thoughtful discourse and promoting ethical treatment of peers. A bright and talented member of her school’s journalism club, Akuot recognizes the harmful impacts of early and often forced marriage. She promises to continue the fight for girls' rights after graduation. Akuot plans to pursue a career in child protection so that she can help to make South Sudan a safer place for children. 

South Sudan is one of the most challenging environments in the world – according to many who report on world affairs. Public education is substandard, while decades of war have made it impossible for many to survive, let alone progress in their education. The only way South Sudan can move beyond its troubled history is through efforts of brave girls like Akuot. Educating these courageous young women is critical to South Sudan's success. We are thankful for Akuot, and we hope you are too. She’s amazing! 

School just let out in Bortown for the holidays, and for those in their 12th year, this is the end of high school. PESS will be cheering on 14 graduates as they take their comprehensive exams over the coming weeks. The students need to pass these exams in order to officially graduate and be able to go on to advanced education or to prove their status when seeking jobs. As we move into the new year - 2020, we will continue to support 55 students in their educational efforts and will add more as funding allows. 

The scholars, staff, board, and volunteers at Project Education South Sudan deeply appreciate you and your ongoing interest and support. Your financial support is what makes the achievements of girls like Akuot possible. All of us wish you a warm and happy holiday season.

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Photo of Aluel
Photo of Aluel

During the past four years, 50 PESS supported students have graduated high school and passed their national exams, required to officially graduate and become eligible for university. These bright young girls, full of hopes and dreams, aspire to contribute to their community and their country. They inspire us and are the reason that we exist. Let me tell you about a couple of these students. 

ALUEL 

Aluel finished her studies at the end of 2018. In January of this year, she took the national exam required of all 12th graders and received the results in August. Aluel learned that she not only passed, but that she received the 4th highest score in the whole of South Sudan. What an achievement! 

Aluel went to primary school in the village of Konbeek, where she attended a school that PESS built about 10 years ago.  She and her family had to flee her home village during civil unrest in 2013. They made their way to Bortown, about 40 miles away, where the family was able to settle into safety. Aluel became a PESS scholar, continuing her education with regular support from the PESS staff. She has obviously taken advantage of the opportunities she received and has been quite successful. Keep up the good work, Aluel -- we can't wait to see what you do next! 

AYOM 

Ayom knows leadership! She is proud of her roles as a class monitor and Assistant Head Girl of her school. She takes her job seriously and is proud to “use her power fairly”, applying equal treatment to boys and girls alike. 

Ayom dreams of becoming a doctor because she wants to improve the state of vulnerable women in her community. When asked what social issue is most important to her, she responds, "in fact, I care about gender-based violence and issues like forced marriage and early marriage because those issues unfairly concern young girls. Justice to girls in the society or community should be improved by all means." Ayom is passionate about Women's Equality. 

PESS organizes students into groups of 10 students. This gives girls support from their peers and offers them the opportunity to study and wrestle with global issues with other students and allows them to practice their communication and writing skills. Ayom’s group named themselves “The Future of Societies”. 

THANKS! 

Project Education South Sudan is honored to support brave and dedicated girls like Aluel and Ayom in achieving their educational aspirations! When you support PESS, you support these and other young women in accessing education and ultimately making the world a better place.

Thank you for being a partner with us!

The Future of Societies
The Future of Societies
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Organization Information

Project Education South Sudan

Location: Denver, Colorado - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @ProjEducSudan
Project Leader:
Daniel Gai
Executive Director
Denver, Colorado South Sudan

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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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