Tag Archives: South Sudan

Letters of Thanks

Patricia Shafer, February 5, 2016

Piet age 13_ZambiaIt’s always heartwarming to open letters from a young man or woman expressing gratitude. We just received a Thank You from Piet Ng’andu in Zambia and Monykong Mijak Dau in South Sudan.

Piet, in his second year at Zambia’s Copperbelt University, wishes everyone a successful 2016. He received his first annual scholarship from a donor connected with Mothering Across Continents at age 13. His update includes: “I love all my courses. Calculus has been interesting as it has a lot of applications in engineering . . . I have enjoyed principles of Statics and Dynamics, as well as Surveying and Engineering Ngor in South SudanDesign. I thank you for your support without which I would not have managed to achieve what I have so far. Faithfully, Piet.“

Monykong – a nephew of our Raising South Sudan project catalyst and former Lost Boy of Sudan Ngor Kur Mayol – finished high school, Nov. 14, 2015, at a boarding school in Uganda. Over the years, he received scholarship support from his uncle Ngor and a friend, supplemented by a foundation in Salisbury, NC, and several Mothering Across Continents catalysts and supporters. In his letter, he writes of God bringing sponsors into Monykong Dau 2016his life and feeling loved. Reflecting, Monykong writes: “Here in Africa . . . I have discovered the significant role education plays in building character, unearthing and developing human potential, for the collective benefit of both a particular nation and the world at large.”

The thanks from Monykong and Piet remind us, in turn, to appreciate everyone who invests in another person’s development – especially a child’s. Education opens eyes and reveals a world otherwise unknown.

From Knowledge Comes Beauty

Patricia Shafer, July 20, 2015

Daphrose-Receives-Any1Can“From Knowledge Comes Beauty” reads a hand-painted T-shirt, a gift to a high school merit scholar in Rwanda, originally painted by a student in the US . . . Why? Did the US student who painted the T-shirt believe deep down inside that there is a connection between knowledge and beauty? Does the recipient, Daphrose, now feel a sense of connection with a young person thousands of miles away that she may never meet?

T-Shirts-MwikoScholarsWe will likely never know the true answers. However, when Mothering Across Continents special projects coordinator Elizabeth Peacock packed her luggage and more than 20 hand-painted T-shirts for a trip to Rwanda, she wondered what magic might be created. T-shirts, she reminded us, have become a global medium of expression, especially for youth. Likewise – hearts, peace signs, flowers and books are images that translate well across many cultures. The languages of love, compassion and quality education are bridge-builders.  

Yet, Elizabeth’s bearing of T-shirt gifts had an even bigger purpose. Three years ago, she led an enormous T-shirt painting exercise across middle and high schools in Charlotte, North Carolina. After workshops learning about seven global issues (poverty, education/illiteracy, hunger, water/infrastructure, environment, conflict/peace, and intolerance), students were invited to paint a white T-shirt in a way that expressed what he or she had learned about what can be done to address one issue. Schools and students raised money to participate. The funds were designated to help build a school in South Sudan. The school, Nyarweng Primary, is operating today.
Sensoria
Then what? What becomes of the T-shirts? First, they toured Charlotte, including an installation of 2,000 T-shirts at the annual Sensoria Arts Festival at Central Piedmont Community College. The exhibit was called “Any1Can” – a theme carried on each of the T-shirts and reminder that Any1Can Promote Education, Any1Can Teach Tolerance, Any1Can Stop Hunger, Any1Can . . .

Some have been set aside, almost museum-like, to be untouched, and only replicated through social enterprise products available in the Mothering Across Continents store. Special gifts have been made of others – the group that Elizabeth just took to students in Rwanda, for example. And another group have been looked at, not as T-shirts to wear per se, but as accidental canvases to be upcycled into purses, bags and backpacks – a potential social enterprise to help fund more education projects.

But I digress . . . I’ve started to share the material and potential marketing impact of these T-shirts, which is easy to do, because we’re often told that T-shirts are a powerful and affordable marketing opportunity. Practically speaking, that may be true. But speaking with purpose, what matters more is that students in the US were introduced to the idea of global issues and the idea that Any1Can make a difference; they were asked to react through art; and their thoughts are being conveyed as gifts half-way around the world. Coming full-circle: “From Knowledge Comes Beauty.”

What are teachers doing to prepare students for the world of tomorrow?

Adults with children attending school in countries with developed economies are hearing a common theme these days . . . “We need to focus on developing global citizens with 21st century skills.” But interview teachers (which we often do as creators of The Global Class and Any1Can Project), and you hear the practical challenges at hand. There are high expectations of (and pressure on) today’s educators to effectively teach to established curricula and help students improve scores on standardized exams. So, how and where can they integrate global education in ways that align with what they’re already teaching and are presented in new, innovative and engaging ways that appeal to students – especially teenagers in high schools?

As one contribution to the answer, we offer up Exhibit A – the 9th grade English teachers and administrators of Myers Park High School in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA. This year, with the support and encouragement of a new principal, Mark Bosco, interested in expanded global knowledge and problem-solving skills, these teachers launched a year-long program that culminates in April.

Step 1: They participated in professional development on how to incorporate seven global issues into the classroom.
Step 2: They introduced the history and context of South Sudan and the fLost Boys of Sudanormer Lost Boys of Sudan into their classrooms through articles, videos, an assembly, and dialogues.
Step 3: They connected classroom learning to efforts of a student club that took the lead on sharing with the rest of the school what was going on in 9th grade English.
Step 4: Working in an integrated way, the 9th grade English teachers and student club members planned a 3-mile “Walk for Wisdom” to raise funds for adult literacy in South Sudan. The walk takes place on Friday, April 4, with nearly 700 of the high school’s 3,000 students registered.
Step 5: After the walk, in April, the teachers are leading classroom reflection conversations aromeo and julietbout the relationship between what students learned about South Sudan and themes of education, conflict and intolerance in classic literature, specifically Romeo and Juliet and The Odyssey.
Step 6: All of the 900 English students in 9th grade are learning to use online technology to create “memes” that juxtapose images from South Sudan with famous lines from “R&J” and “Odyssey.”

And there’s a culmination. By May, these memes will be curated for presentation at the school and in public.

Next time you hear someone say, “What are teachers doing to prepare students for the world of tomorrow?” feel free to think about this moment in time that links a photo of a few teachers sitting in a circle of student desks and what emerged from it. MPHS teachers

Human rights artist and friend Todd Drake…

Reading Todd’s submission for an Aftermath Project grant reminded us that on some level all humans are in a race with death. Some of us secretly wish to cheat or outrun it. Others encounter circumstances that make them face it head on. Todd wrote that this realization draws him to the harrowing stories of former Lost Boys of Sudan and the dreams many have to return and rebuild. As Todd says, “Few of us have had reality turned upside down so suddenly, going from a safe and familiar life to one of survival, without protection, in an unforgiving landscape. Yet, something in their unique journey rings universal. So, I and many who know their journey want to know: what do they remember about the place left behind, what is there now, and what are they to do with memories? Repair and renewal is yeoman’s work.”

Photo Todd Drake in PalestineWe are wishing Todd luck as he waits to hear by December if his proposal will be accepted. No doubt, in his capable and caring hands, his camera can do much to build bridges of understanding. 

 


Todd teaches Palestinian woman about photography

Bol Maywal’s Story

By Patricia Shafer

I’ve known Bol for about two years now, but this past Sunday was the first chance I’ve had to hear him speak about in a public setting about his experience as a southern Sudanese refugee. Education Program Bol Maywal LebanonManager Elizabeth Peacock and I made a detour on our drive from Charlotte, NC, to Washington, DC and Baltimore, to hear him speak. We sat in the front row with his mother Adout. I was reminded that even though he has been in the U.S. for 12 years now, and the story of young men affected by the past civil war in Sudan has been told many times, every story is unique and every telling is fresh depending on who is listening. In one PowerPoint slide, Bol shared the only photo his family has of time spent in a refugee camp in Egypt. He described a nearby church that in many ways and on many days felt like the only safe harbor in life’s storm. He acknowledged his mother for raising her children and guiding them well in the United States even though she arrived not knowing how to speak English or read and write her name – reality for most women who come into adulthood during war and the aftermath of fleeing it. He beamed with obvious pride at the slide that shows him being commissioned for his entry as an officer in the US Army, a role he officially takes up this January 2014. I’ve been told that southern Sudanese culture places a high value on someone’s story, and it’s important that when someone starts to tell their’s you give them the room to start and finish. I look forward to hearing more about Bol’s.

Testimonials say it all!

We greatly appreciate the testimonials and reviews we have received from a variety of people we have worked with. Here are a few examples…

“Mothering Across Continents assisted our school in becoming a part of a global service project and helped our faculty understand the complex problems that surround need in developing countries.  We wanted to focus our service project around the idea of clean water and discovered their global classroom materials online.  They came to us to deliver staff development, as well as, student leadership development.  Students grew in their knowledge of global problems and became partners to affect change in South Sudan.  They have gained a better understanding of issues like poverty, conflict, hunger, and resource management.  Most importantly our school understands that we have a place in the global community and our responsibility is to educate students, our own community and to reach out and partner with those who need help.”
~ Amy (Teacher)

“I had the opportunity to work with Mothering Across Continents on a project my senior year of high school. Not only were we successful in our project, they were very helpful at letting the students learn the ins and outs of the business. We were treated like peers and adults but at the same time if we needed help with anything they were always there. The people from MAC that we worked with were incredibly personable and I still keep in touch with one which I think really shows that they care about more than just raising the money but the people they are working with as well. I still continue to donate money to the causes they have and I hope to even work with them in the near future as an intern or still as a volunteer!”
~ Shelby (Student)

“A Lost Boy of Sudan, James Lubo Mijak, and I had a dream to build a school in South Sudan back in 2009.  We were floundering until we met Mothering Across Continents.  Since then, with their tireless direction and support, we’ve raised more than $300,000 and have completed a school in one of the most remote places in the world.  We simply could not have done it without them.  And, there is so much more work to do and MAC is committed to seeing it through with us.”
~ Phillips (Project Catalyst)

“Mothering Across Continents has created a solid framework by which our team is in the process of creating two sustainable school projects in South Sudan.  Even though working in South Sudan is extremely difficult, our project, designed by Mothering Across Continents has met goals that other groups have only hoped to achieve.”
~ Karen (Project Catalyst)

To read more, or add your own, visit our page on Great Non-Profits where we received one of the first Top-Rated Awards of 2013. GNP new badge