We Were Born to Do This

Director's Corner
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We Were Born to Do This

The first time I visited South Sudan in 2004 - prior to its independence - I travelled across the entire country which was then a region devastated by man’s inhumanity to man. Although South Sudan is slightly larger than France, I could find only one concrete school building in Rumbek.

Millions were impacted by the twenty-year civil war and decades of marginalization, and far too many children and their families were internally displaced or had fled the country as refugees to Kenya. Conflict, extreme poverty and a near total absence of infrastructure had left virtually every girl, boy and the youth furthest behind. I will never forget this sight of unspeakable injustice.

Reading and reflecting on ECW’s interview in this month’s Newsletter with the Honourable Awut Deng Acuil, Minister of General Education and Instruction for South Sudan, both deepened my indignation against any injustice - especially against girls and the forcibly displaced - and also gave me immense hope in learning more about such a resilient, experienced and educated female leader - a veteran in education, gender and human rights.

© UNICEF South Sudan/Ryeng
© UNICEF South Sudan/Ryeng

The Honourable Awut Deng Acuil reminds us all of the importance of local ownership, leadership and knowledge, as well as our absolute moral obligation to focus on girls’ and refugees’ education. Her strength, perseverance and dedication - exemplified by her many accomplishments in life - are astonishing and inspiring.

She describes the national context, her own struggles and Education Cannot Wait’s investments in the children of South Sudan in an authentic, genuine way, fully understanding the challenges faced by girls, refugees and children and youth enduring conflict, forced displacement, climate change induced disasters, not to mention COVID-19.

Under her guidance, ECW has worked closely with the government of South Sudan to deliver a $189 million multi-year humanitarian-development-peace nexus education investment. During our first year alone, we reached 116,240 crisis-affected girls and boys in 181 schools with $20 million in seed funds.

But these results do not do justice to either their needs, nor to her leadership.

To read the full story on Exposure WE WERE BORN TO DO THIS! by Education Cannot Wait - Education Cannot Wait (exposure.co) 

About our Director

ECW Executive Director Yasmine Sherif
Yasmine Sherif

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