At the beginning of Second Sudanese Civil War (1984-2005), numerous southern Sudanese villages were destroyed. Nearly 30,000 boys began a 1,000-mile walk to the first of three refugee camps where survivors of the walk spent childhoods. On the walk, media and aid workers dubbed them Lost Boys of Sudan. In 2001, about 3,800 former Lost Boys were invited to come to the U.S. and become citizens. By July 2011, South Sudan achieved independence and become the newest country in the world. It is also one of the poorest. In one particular area—Unity State—only one in ten children has attended a permanent primary school and has access to latrines and clean water.
The Raising South Sudan project launched in April 2010 with these initial goals:
- Build permanent primary schools and provide clean water, starting in the villages of Nyarweng and Aliap, Pariang County, Unity State
- Be an area model of school, community development
- Facilitate collaborative efforts to serve children, create a peaceful future
Our school plan serves 250 to 300 children and includes: 4 classrooms, student and teacher latrines, two offices, teacher accommodations, desks, shelves, food storage, borehole/water source.
- Mid-2012: teachers and students started using first partially-constructed school
- Late 2012: Kindles, textbooks, generator donated to Gumriak Orphanage and School, Pariang Town
- January – April 2013 schedule: Officially open first school, drill first borehole
It takes about $350,000 to build a permanent model primary school and provide clean water in remote villages. Future goals include bringing fresh water to communities near the second school site and starting school construction by December 2013.
The Raising South Sudan project is built on strong relationships. More than 500 individuals, organizations and school groups have contributed to Raising South Sudan.
Lost Boys James Lubo Mijak and Ngor Kur Mayol promised they would not forget their respective home villages of Nyarweng and Aliap, Pariang County, Unity State, South Sudan. They initiated the dream.
In ten years of friendship with Lubo, Phillips Bragg has learned much about the history, geography and needs of South Sudan. Phillips is vice president of planning for wealth management, Bragg Financial Advisors, Charlotte, NC. In 2012, he was recognized by the Association of Fundraising Professionals-Charlotte as an Outstanding Emerging Philanthropist. A tireless spokesperson and fundraiser for Raising South Sudan schools and related projects, Phillips' focus is on a March 2012 trip to South Sudan to: facilitate borehole completion, initiate meals program, and explore small-scale farming opportunities.
Karen Puckett became a Project Catalyst while employed as a school media specialist in Salisbury, NC. She attended a screening of the documentary The Lost Boys of Sudan at a local church movie night. Moved, she traveled with Ngor to understand firsthand the education needs of children in his home village. Karen's passion is alternative and creative learning methods. When visiting, she concentrates on providing camp-style learning experiences for teachers, parents and students—a focus of her trip in June 2012.