Visiting Schools in South Sudan

Jan 3, 2013

Beginning January 3rd, I’m leaving snow-capped Rochester, New York for 14 days, traveling more than 6,000 miles to South Sudan. 

I’ll be visiting a place called Mayan Abun. It’s halfway around the world, but still very close to home. That’s because Rochester-area classrooms, religious organizations, businesses, and non-profits raised money to build a new school in the war-torn village. This will be the first opportunity for Rochesterians to see the school and meet the families whose lives have been changed because of their generosity.

During the trip, I’ll be joined by Sebastian Maroundit, a former “Lost Boy” of Sudan who lives in Rochester. He’s the Co-Founder and President of the local non-profit Building Minds in Sudan (BMIS). The non-profit is working to build and rebuild schools destroyed during years of civil war in Sudan that eventually resulted in that country’s split between the north and the south. The Republic of South Sudan became the world’s newest nation in 2011. World leaders say educating the youth and adults of South Sudan, where more than 90% of women are illiterate, is key for the country’s eventual success.

Also joining us on the trip will be Bonnie Lloyd, an RIT Professor and Building Minds in Sudan board member. In addition, videographer Matthew Adams will be getting footage of my interviews with students, teachers, and families of Mayan Abun. I’ll also be interviewing the Governor of State, Minister of Education, and a female education activist, among others.

Next week, be sure to tune into WXXI-AM 1370/WRUR-FM 88.5 during Morning Edition. I’ll be doing live interviews from the field in South Sudan with Beth Adams. I’ll also be Skyping with students from the School 36 in Rochester, where students have been raising money for the school in Mayan Abun.

Lastly, be sure to check out my postings and photographs here on WXXINews.org, on WXXI’s Facebook page and on Twitter (@HeleneWXXI), just look for the hash tag: #southsudaned.

When I return to Rochester, I'll appear on Need to Know Rochester to share footage of my trip to South Sudan. This edition of Need to Know Rochester will also feature the Rochester Museum and Science Center’s RACE: Are We So Different? exhibit and the new RISE Initiative. Look for that episode on January 18.

This is part of WXXI’s reporting and civic engagement initiative around Schools for South Sudan, which explores issues related to education, diversity and racism locally and around the world. Schools for South Sudan is supported in part by The Community FoundationFollow Hélène's reporting trip on Twitter: @HeleneWXXIand #SouthSudanEd