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 drove 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, some of 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 and reached out to others 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.
16 Years 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.
Gabriel first returned to Africa and visited the South Sudanese refugee settlements located in Uganda in 2011. He was distressed to see the children suffering as he had just a few years earlier. Gabriel came back to the United States resolved to make a difference in the lives of these children.
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 has become 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's taken 11 trips back to South Sudan and Uganda since then to meet 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 his own donations and personal fundraising. This nonprofit was his way of formalizing and expanding fundraising abilities. "Helping Hands for South Sudan" grew out of his vision and passion and has gained support and involvement of many along the way. With your help, we hope to give back to the people of South Sudan 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 is also overseeing the process of building a high school in Juba, South Sudan and will continue to work for healing among South Sudanese populations no matter where they are on the globe.
A Return to Africa
In September of 2022, Gabriel decided it was time to take his family, his knowledge and his vision for a more educated South Sudan back to Africa where he could be closer to what matters most— refugee children hoping to go to school. He and his beautiful wife Roda, along with their five children, feel very blessed to have lived in the United States for 16 years. They became U.S. citizens and had all five of their children in California. They were valued members of Presbyterian Church of Los Gatos and made many friends in America.
The family will make its home in Kakama, Uganda while Gabriel works in both Uganda and South Sudan, furthering the mission of this nonprofit. Refugee camps and partner schools are both in Uganda, and another of our partner schools is in Juba, South Sudan. Having "feet on the ground" will allow Gabriel to be more involved in every aspect of the local needs of students, teachers and administrators.
Of course, Gabriel will continue working with our Board and those of us who serve the needs of Helping Hands for South Sudan stateside.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Gabriel visiting with children in the Adjumani Refugees Settlement in Uganda, February 2020
Gabriel (far right) with other South Sudanese young men, the day they arrived in the United States, 2006.
Graduating from San Jose State University with a major in Justice Studies and a minor in Human Rights, 2018.
Gabriel with wife, Roda, also from South Sudan
Gabriel wand Roda with their five adorable children!
The organization was founded upon Gabriel Nyok's firsthand knowledge of life as a refugee and his desire to help educate the children of South Sudan. He commitment has inspired many and serves as our guiding light. Working alongside him is our dedicated Board of Directors. They give their time and talents to help further the mission of this nonprofit. It is their 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.
Brenda is a retired engineering director from Lockheed Martin. She has been active with service organizations such as tutoring math for Campbell Adult Community Education (CACE) and serving as the chair of the Adult Education Committee at the Presbyterian Church of Los Gatos. She was also recognized as a 2020 Woman of Influence by the Silicon Valley Business Journal.
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 development and maintenance of our website and social media platforms.
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.
We've been fortunate enough to have friends and supporters who are passionate about our work. As part of our mission help educate refugee children, we sent a team to Africa in early February 2020. This group included Chairman and Founder Gabriel Nyok, Treasurer Ron Dickel and the Reverend David Watermulder, a compassionate friend to our nonprofit. In Africa the U.S. contingency met up with Mary Akio and Engenye Deo, local Ugandan friends also motivated to help educate refugee children. The team visited schools, teachers, students and refugee camps. Thanks to your donations, we were able to sponsor 22 more children on this trip.
Ron Dickel, Rev. David Watermulder, Mary Akio, Gabriel Nyok and Engenye Deo
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. While our Chairman Gabriel Nyok has traveled to Africa multiple times to personally to meet with refugee elders, school officials, and children, 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 some of our trips to South Sudan, Uganda, and Kenya where we have met with refugee camp elders, school officials and our students. These trips also involve selecting the children to receive education sponsorships and paying their tuition, room and board. As you can see, the refugee conditions in the camps are extremely poor. There are eight refugee camps in the region, 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.
Click below to see a 3-minute musical video of our trip in February of 2020.
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 in 2019. 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. 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 welcome donations of any amount, but a gift of $500 sponsors an entire year of school for a child! Or choose from our list of suggestions:
We are a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, so your gift is tax-deductible—Tax ID #82-5215402. 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 us at 16575 Shannon Road, Los Gatos, California 95032, USA.
Improving the Lives of Refugee Children Through Education
Nonprofit Tax ID #82-5215402
Copyright © 2020 Helping Hands for South Sudan