Project #11954

Unleash the leaders: 400 girls in South Sudan

by Project Education South Sudan
Daniel describing a day in school in South Sudan
Daniel describing a day in school in South Sudan

Young girls' education is the primary focus of Project Education South Sudan. Given that only one in 6 women in this newest of nations can read and write, and given that 70% of school-age children have never set foot in a school, it is not surprising why this is important to us (information is from Unicef education statistics). 

Daniel, former “lost boy” (war refugee) from Pagook, a small town near Bor, South Sudan is dedicating his life to this cause. After moving to the United States in 2001, after receiving a Psychology degree from University of Colorado, and after receiving a passport from this wealthiest of nations, the easy approach would have been to build a career in his adopted country, the USA – a nation of immigrants. But, Daniel chose not to pick “easy”. For the past five years he has lived in Bor, near his home of Pagook – most of the time, that is. 

For one month out of each year, Daniel has been returning to Denver, Colorado to meet with his friends and supporters. Why is this important? Without generous friends in the US, Daniel would not be able to do what he is doing. He would need to get a job to support his family, and would likely have little time left to devote to his passion of helping young girls stay in school and achieve the goal of basic education. 

So, what did Daniel do during his annual trip to the US in August and September of this year? He educated us. That is his other passion – to help people in Colorado (and elsewhere as they hear about us) better understand the people of South Sudan and the huge need for improved education. By building understanding and bridges of relationship between people of Denver in the US and people in the Bor area of South Sudan, strands of connection between these two cultures and groups of people are woven. As this effect is reproduced by hundreds and thousands of other small groups of international friends, gradually the world becomes smaller, more connected, more hopeful, and less dangerous. 

Meet Abuk, who says: I appreciate you for your continuous support toward my high school education. Your support had overcome the challenges that were on my way to higher education. It has encouraged me to continue my studies to achieve the coming bright future in South Sudan. 

Daniel and Project Education South Sudan are working to help Abuk succeed in school! 

This is why we want to thank each one of you who help Daniel and Project Education South Sudan as we work to fulfill our mission of educating young girls in this least literate of all nations in the world (according to Unicef). Only 6% of giving by US donors goes to international causes (according to Global Impact), but how important this 6% is! This giving by US donors helps to build these strands of relationship that we at Project Education South Sudan are helping to weave. How can we thank you enough?! You are helping Abuk, and you are helping Daniel achieve his all-essential task.

Daniel with Emmy winning Colorado journalist
Daniel with Emmy winning Colorado journalist
Abuk: I appreciate your continuous support
Abuk: I appreciate your continuous support


Newly built desks arrive by truck
Newly built desks arrive by truck

In South Sudan it is rainy season. The almost daily rains cause valuable crops to grow. This is good, but the steady rains also make most roads impassable. The few paved roads, mostly in the capital city of Juba, are fine, but most roads in South Sudan are dirt, and become slick and rutted this time of year. With almost no roadside service available, most cars and trucks stay off the roads. The movement of goods, services and people slows and many kinds of work become nearly impossible. When dry season returns in October or November, there will be a rush to complete projects that are currently languishing.

In the few months before the rains arrived, Daniel was able to complete several important goals. Two wells were drilled, in the village of Pagook and at the Sunlight Primary school in Bor that Daniel runs. Two school roofs were repaired that had been damaged in recent storms. School desks, 60 of them, were built and delivered to two villages. Construction of goods such as desks have to be commissioned.

Materials need to be located, and carpenters hired for the work, as there are few off the shelf products such as this. When the shipment of desks is delivered, the village turns out to welcome the arrival. This is a big deal for young students who know they will be able to sit at a desk, rather than on a crude log bench or even on the dirt floor.   

Schools continue to operate during rainy season, so Daniel continues his work of vetting new students for tuition assistance. PESS now pays tuition and living expenses for 50 girls, much of this through serving as a partner with She’s The First in New York.

While we cheer the progress, it comes with much effort. Since there is no banking service in Bor that is able to receive funds from the US, Daniel has to travel to Juba to secure the funds to make tuition payments for students at the schools and to complete the other projects that PESS does. Although the road trip is only 125 miles, this can take a full day during rainy season, that is when the buses and trucks can actually even make the trip. The short hop by air can cost hundreds of dollars each way, and Daniel often has to pay for several days of hotel stay on these trips. Banking has become a challenge, so Daniel had to visit the bank daily until the funds were transferred to his Bor bank. Business in South Sudan is often not an efficient operation.

On top of this, Daniel’s family has experienced multiple health challenges this rainy season. Malaria and parasitic diseases are frequent visitors, and these bouts often frustrate Daniel’s effort to achieve the work goals he tries to reach. These conditions are hard to treat because, in the small clinics available to Daniel’s family, diagnosis is imprecise due to the lack of medical resources and effective treatment drugs are inaccessible.

Daniel remains grateful to his friends and supporters who offer him a great sense of encouragement and strength. Daniel maintains an amazing optimism and cheerfulness, even during a challenging rainy season. Thank you, each one, for your valued engagement!

The new desks bring smiles to students
The new desks bring smiles to students
Daniel with Students
Daniel with Students
School girls supported by Project Education Sudan
School girls supported by Project Education Sudan

Deborah is a high school student in Bor, South Sudan. “I’m very happy to write this letter to you as a sign of appreciation for all the supports you have done to me. I really appreciate your hard work. You have provided me with a powerful weapon to fight enemy called illiteracy through your support.  I will do my best to succeed...” she wrote a few weeks ago.


Education! Basic Education! That’s the powerful weapon Deborah is talking about. The unfortunate fact is that out of every six women in South Sudan, only one can read. No wonder Deborah is happy to be able to write this letter of appreciation! If it were not for you who read these reports and who generously contribute, Deborah and many young women like her would not have the privilege of fighting illiteracy through education. We, as well as Deborah, cannot begin to thank you enough. There is so far to go, BUT we have made so much progress.


Daniel Majok Gai, Executive Director of Project Education South Sudan, goes to his office each day in the town of Bor. Daniel has a cell phone and an internet connection. The internet works during the hours that the generator is running – sometimes. Weather, as well as electrical and mechanical problems, frequently disrupts communications, so Daniel has learned to work expeditiously when he has a good connection. He has a steady stream of young women coming to the door of his office, begging for financial help for school tuition and fees. The waiting list grows daily. Many of these young education starved students are from families with one or both parents missing, lost to years of war and fighting. Jobs are so scarce that even those who come from intact families seldom have the employment to support the education of their young people. Girls are usually given lower priority as students. This is changing gradually, and we are encouraged by these incremental improvements. Until the economy improves and there is more political stability, the help that comes from generous supporters in the US has immeasurable value. THANK YOU!


Daniel, the Executive Director of Project Education South Sudan moved his young family back to South Sudan in the early fall of 2015. Daniel’s wife and two small children, along with 2 other young relatives were living in an apartment in Nairobi for a year and a half, waiting for things to calm down politically and militarily in South Sudan. Daniel was traveling back and forth from South Sudan to Nairobi so he could have time with his family while still continuing the work in the Bor area of South Sudan. Sporadic fighting between rebel and government forces finally died down enough for them to feel it was safe enough for the whole family to return to Bor. They have been there for several months, and now the town of Bor is filling back up and the surrounding villages and rural areas that Daniel serves are repopulating as well. Daniel rented an office in Bor, so that he can be more effective in the work he is doing. 

We continue our gratitude to all of you for sharing your hard earned dollars to support Daniel in his efforts to rebuild this impoverished and war-torn country. You are truly making a difference! Here are some of the recent accomplishments: 

  • Funds have been raised for two new wells at school sites to be drilled so that school kids at school can have water that is safe to drink, and to eliminate many of the intestinal diseases that keep kids from studying. The drilling of these wells has been contracted and the work will be done during this dry season (which lasts until May or June).
  • Families are returning to the Bor area, so the number of young people of school age is increasing, and so are the numbers of girls who are receiving scholarship assistance for their schooling. This program is very helpful, as there are many families who have parents who have died in the conflict or who are unemployed and do not have the money to send their kids to school. Project Education South Sudan continues its close working relationship with She’s The First on this school sponsorship program and there are several other girls who are sponsored by individuals giving directly to PESS. Sponsorship includes payment of school tuition and fees and other non-educational costs for girls who are in various schools in the Bor and Juba areas of South Sudan.
  • Listen to the goals and aspirations of some of the girls who are receiving sponsorship support from Project Education South Sudan: 

o   Grace wants a career as a doctor. She says being a doctor is a lifesaving work. “Doctors are second to God and I love to work with people, especially women and children,” 

o   Aluel wants to be a pilot. “I want to be the first female pilot in South Sudan.” She is passionate about her profession, and determined to complete at the highest educational level. 

o   Awuoi says, “I want to invent new things because our county is full of different minerals and I’m thrilled to have an engineering career.” 

  • PESS works closely with other NGOs who operate in Jonglei State, and the new office space in Bor gives Daniel the ability to interact with many of them and to better coordinate service to families in the area. PESS also works closely with the State Education Cluster to increase its effectiveness. Building community leaders and regularly meeting with them is a key part of the effort.
Carol Rinehart passes the elder stick to Daniel
Carol Rinehart passes the elder stick to Daniel

Look, we have a new Executive Director! After 10 years of tireless volunteer work, our founding Executive Director, Carol Rinehart, retired on June 1, 2015 and passed the elder stick to Daniel Majok Gai. Carol co-founded the organization with Isaac Khor Bher, a “lost boy of Sudan” after the two of them went to Sudan to find Isaac’s mother. Isaac and his mother had been separated by the countries long-lasting civil war for over 20 years. Education was the most important need in Isaacs’s home village of Konbeek, according to the elders. This request from the elders of Isaac’s village resulted in the launch of Project Education South Sudan. 

Daniel Majok Gai was another “lost boy of Sudan” who located to Denver Colorado in 2001, coming from the Kakuma Refugee Camp in northern Kenya. Daniel worked on his degree in Psychology at the University of Colorado in Denver, became a US Citizen, and joined the work of Project Education South Sudan. In 2009, he too made a trip with the organization to be reunited with his family in Pagook, a short distance from Isaac’s village. 

In 2011, Daniel offered to return to Sudan, shortly before South Sudan obtained its independence from the country of Sudan. Daniel went as a representative of Project Education South Sudan and decided to stay. On June 1 of this year, Daniel became the second Executive Director of the organization. He continues to live in Bor, South Sudan, making periodic trips to Denver to reconnect with supporters and friends.   

How can we thank all of you enough for sharing your hard earned dollars to support Daniel in his efforts to rebuild his war-torn country? You are truly making a difference! Here are some of the things that have been happening recently: 

  • Following the report of last month, Project Education South Sudan (“PESS”) continues to support the training in HIV/ AIDS education and in sewing, using the sewing machine purchased from the program. Several schools are participating: Langbar Modern Academy Secondary School (LMASS), Sunlight Primary School (SPS), Dr. John Garang Memorial of University of Science and Technology (Dr. JG. MUST) and Pagook Primary School (PPS). During the dry season (which starts in a couple months), PESS’s training of trainers will accelerate to prepare more students, teachers, and leaders. Each school received two sewing machines and the schools are working on ways to turn this resource into sewing businesses.
  • PESS is working closely with other NGOs who operate in Jonglei State, South Sudan, to look for space to open an office in Bor. This will increase the effectiveness of these organizations. PESS will work to increase community involvement in all its activities to build a more successful work ethic and the ability for members to apply for new jobs as they become available. PESS also works closely with the State Education Cluster to increase its effectiveness. Building community leaders and regularly meeting with them is a key part of the effort.
  • PESS also plans to drill three more wells with funds received. These wells in Pagook and at Sunlight Primary School provide clean drinking water for students and their families. The dry season is also when this work gets done, using a local company, PARAD, to do the drilling.
  • PESS also continues its girl’s education sponsorship program in cooperation with She’s the First, a successful worldwide program out of New York. Girl’s education is crucial to rebuilding South Says Daniel Gai, “I belief that girl education will tremendously improve our living standard as a country whole. The outcome is measureable even at this time. Educated women in our society today live a healthy life in our communities compared to less educated women. An educated woman knows how to make money which contributes enormously to the support of family.” She’s The First has agreed to increase their sponsorship of PESS selected students from 13 to 25 girls. Sponsorship includes payment of school tuition and fees and other non-educational costs for girls who are in various schools in the Bor and Juba areas of South Sudan. An example of the difference this program makes is seen in Abuk Deng Mayen, a young girl who has now completed her high school certificate and has been accepted at Mango Nursing School in Uganda for four years nursing degree.  A big thank to She’s The First for continuing Abuk’s higher education in Uganda.
Achol Jur Kur - in form 2, Langbar Modern Academy
Achol Jur Kur - in form 2, Langbar Modern Academy

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Organization Information

Project Education South Sudan

Location: Denver, Colorado - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Daniel Gai
Executive Director
Denver, Colorado South Sudan

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