The first public screening of a WXXI documentary on an effort to build schools in South Sudan took place Tuesday night at The Little Theatre in Rochester.
WXXI's Hélène Biandudi Hofer, narrated the documentary "Schools for South Sudan" that she helped write and produce after visiting that country last year. The hour-long film focuses on efforts to build a school there, efforts that got a big boost from Rochesterians including the so-called 'Lost Boys' of South Sudan, now settled here, who formed non-profit organizations in an effort to bring education and health care to their native country.
Dozens turned out Tuesday night at The Little Theatre to see the documentary, and stayed for a panel discussion after the film. One of those men who are in the film is Sebastian Maroundit who says one of his goals is getting more girls an education in South Sudan.
"We have a lot of girls coming to school so I can see a lot of change and our school becomes a lifeline of the community."
Education is a key to the future of South Sudan, says Palath Thonchar, who notes that it was tough to find a medical assistant for a health clinic he helped establish in that country.
"Without education I think, it is tough sometimes to find people like that, and we cannot have a nation with a population that is not educated, and I think education changes a lot of things."
Both Thonchar and Maroundit are hopeful that the recent violence that has broken out in parts of South Sudan will not become more widespread across that country.
The Rochester Area Community Foundation provided financial support for the project, and its president, Jennifer Leonard, says this documentary shows how living in Rochester helped inspire the re-settled men from South Sudan to "pay it forward, " finding a way to turn the generosity they received here, into an effort to help their native country.
"The Rochesterians who opened their homes and their lives to resettle the former lost boys of South Sudan made an impression on these young men that they have now carried back to do good works in their home villages."