We're highly motivated to help the children of South Sudan because we too were once children of South Sudan. We're now blessed to live in the United States, but we remember what it feels like to flee the ravages of war as refugees—to seek a better life and to want an education.
Lost Boys (and Girls) of the Sudan—Over the years, the civil war in South Sudan has driven an estimated 20,000 young boys and girls from their families and villages in southern Sudan. Most of them just six or seven years old, they fled to Ethiopia to escape death or induction into the northern army. They walked more than a thousand miles, half of them dying before reaching Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. The survivors of this tragic exodus became known as the "Lost Boys and Girls of Sudan". We, the organizers of this charitable organization, were among them.
The International Rescue Committee and organizations like it helped hundreds of us start new lives in cities across the United States. Here we've been able to enjoy peace, freedom and education. But we haven't forgotten our countrymen nor the conditions back home. That's why we've joined hands to create this nonprofit charity "Helping Hands for South Sudan".
Born in South Sudan
Gabriel was born in a clinic near the Nile River in 1983. The fact that he was born in a clinic, a rare occurrence in South Sudan, earned him the middle name Akim, which means “doctor” in Dinka, his native tongue.
Gabriel was among the “Lost Boys and Girls of the Sudan,” over 20,000 orphaned children who were separated from their families due to the civil war. This group trekked enormous distances over a vast unforgiving wilderness, seeking refuge from the fighting. At that time, Gabriel was only 2 or 3 years old, so he was carried by Red Cross volunteers. They traveled on foot from a camp for displaced persons in South Sudan to a UNHCR Refugee Camp in Northern Kenya. Having had to leave his weakened mother behind in South Sudan, he and his brother grew up as orphans in the refugee camp. Gabriel was fortunate to receive a scholarship from UNICEF to attend school in Kenya. After his graduation from high school, he went back to the camp and worked as a teacher.
Arrival in the Unites States
As an act of humanitarianism, the United States government brought many of the South Sudanese refugees to the United States in 2006. So around the age of 21, Gabriel was resettled to the California Bay Area. Believing that education was of utmost importance, he enrolled at De Anza College right after finding a job and an apartment.
In 2013, as part of his college research, Gabriel traveled back to his homeland and visited the refugee settlements in Uganda. He was distressed to see the children suffering as he had in the Kenyan refugee camp just a few years earlier. Gabriel came back to the United States resolved to make a difference in the lives of these children. In 2016 Gabriel graduated with his Associates Degree in Science from De Anza College.
In 2018, Gabriel earned his Bachelor of Science degree from San Jose State University with a major in Justice Studies and a minor in Human Rights. His strong hope and life's vocation is to eliminate illiteracy and bring education to the children and young people exiled to these remote, rural areas of eastern Africa. With determination and compassion, he took another information-gathering trip to South Sudan and Uganda after graduation. There he met with village elders, local school officials and refugees to help facilitate educational needs.
Prior to creating this nonprofit, Gabriel was personally sending several refugee children to school each year solely through personal fundraising. This nonprofit is his and his likeminded associates' way of formalizing and expand their fundraising efforts. "Helping Hands for South Sudan" has grown out of their vision and passion and gained support and involvement of many along the way. With your help, we hope to give back to the people of their homeland the gift of education they so richly deserve.
In addition to serving as Chairman of the Board of "Helping Hands for South Sudan", Gabriel serves as an Advisor for Rebuild South Sudan, a non-profit organization working on education in his home community of Kolnyang and the greater Jonglei area (on the Nile). He speaks at events focusing on the plight of South Sudan, letting people know his firsthand point of view and how they can help. He would ultimately like to build a high school in South Sudan and will continue to work for healing among South Sudanese populations no matter where they are on the globe.
Gabriel and his beautiful wife Roda, also a South Sudanese refugee, feel very blessed to be living in the United States. They are valued members of Presbyterian Church of Los Gatos and have made many friends in America. They live in Palo Alto, California with their three children.
Email Gabriel at firstname.lastname@example.org
Visiting the Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement for South Sudan refugees in Uganda, 2017
Receiving his Bachelors degree from San Jose State University with a major in Justice Studies and a minor in Human Rights, December 2018
Gabriel with his beautiful wife Roda and their children
Gabriel's firsthand knowledge of life as a refugee and his desire to help educate the children of South Sudan has inspired many and serves as our guiding light. Working alongside him is our dedicated Board of Directors. It is the Board's responsibility to oversee the organization's activities and steer it towards a sustainable future by adopting sound, ethical, and legal governance and financial management policies.
Ron is a recently retired tax vice president from Intel. He has been active with nonprofits, such as serving on the Session (governing body) at Presbyterian Church of Los Gatos, where he served as Treasurer and Chair of the Finance Committee. He also was a director of the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary before he moved to Los Gatos, California in 2010.
Constance (Connie) Maurer is a retired Sales Professional from Honeywell International and several other organizations. She has been an active mentor and board member of Friends for Youth in Redwood City, California for over 20 years. She is also active in the Kiwanis Club and has served as a board member and president of Woodside Terrace Kiwanis Club of Redwood City.
Like Gabriel, some of the board's advisors are former "Lost Boys and Girls of the Sudan" who through their own escape from adversity developed a strong desire to give back:
David Anyieth (pictured)
Not on our board, but a valued member of our team, is volunteer Beth Bordelon, a former advertising agency Art Director, who oversees the design and development of our website and collateral materials.
We look forward to adding more board members from a variety of backgrounds, viewpoints and skill sets. If you are interested in joining our team, please contact Gabriel Nyok at email@example.com or (408)723-3320.
Since our charity is based in the United States, it helps to have feet on the ground in the communities we are trying to help. Our founder Gabriel Nyok travels to Africa personally to meet with refugee elders, school officials, and children, but volunteers like Isaiah Mayen, Michael Kui, Taban Agau and Samuel Ayuen (pictured) are important contributors in the facilitation of some of the day-to-day local activities. We thank them for their dedication and help.
Below are photos from our founder Gabriel Nyok's two-month trip to South Sudan, Uganda, and Kenya where he met with refugee camp elders, researched potential local schools, selected children to receive education sponsorship, and paid their tuition, room and board. As you can see, the conditions in the camps are extremely poor. There are eight refugee camps in the areas that he visited, each with at least 3,000 children, most of them wanting to go to school! The need far outweighs our ability to help, but each child we send to school we view as a life saved.
Over 1,500 children from eight refugee camps showed up at a gathering held by Helping Hands for South Sudan founder Gabriel Nyok in Uganda this year. Listen to the beautiful singing voices of these precious children, each one hopeful he or she might be selected to go to school.
Let your hands be Helping Hands for South Sudan. We welcome donations of any amount, but a gift of $500 sponsors an entire year of school for a child! To sponsor a specific child, please include that child's name with your payment.
Whether you help through monetary donations or spread our mission through word-of-mouth, thank you. We couldn't accomplish our goals without the help of supporters like you.
We are a 501(3)(c) charitable organization, so your gift is tax-deductible. You may use PayPal, a credit card or debit card using the link below. (As with any PayPal purchase, your transaction is secure.) Check donations may be made payable to Helping Hands for South Sudan and mailed to the attention of Gabriel Nyok, 2500 El Camino Real, # 206, Palo Alto, CA 94306.
Improving the Lives of Refugee Children Through Education
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