Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Upcoming Events

Dear friends of the Sudanese,

On behalf of the Sudanese Community Association of Illinois (SCAI), I would like to cordially invite you, your family, and friends to our biggest celebration of the year, scheduled for January 4, 2009, at Truman College at 1145 W. Wilson Avenue in Chicago, at 2:00pm. Illinois Sudanese residents are having this Sudanese celebration to commemorate the Lost Boys’ birthdays, Sudan’s Independence Day, the New Year, and to reflect on the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which ended decades of war between South and North. Speakers will include the Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng, Co-chair of the Enough Project John Prendergast, Olympic flag bearer Lopez Lomong, and women’s inspirational speaker Aduei Riak.

Our celebration will kick off the night before on Saturday with Lost Boys and their friends celebrating New Year and Birthdays at the Ethiopian Diamond Restaurant located at 6120 N. Broadway in Chicago, from 10:00pm to 2:00pm. One of the Sudanese musicians, Dynamq, will be performing.

Since many of you will be celebrating Christmas and New Year with family and friends, I ask that you extend our invitation to them as well.

Thank you all for the support you have given us through the year 2008 and I look forward to a New Year rich in love, peace, unity, and progress.

Happy Christmas and New Year!!

Peter Magai Bul
President, Ayual Community Development Association

Sunday, November 2, 2008

ACDA President Peter Magai Bul to Appear on Oprah

As new United States citizens, "Lost Boys of Sudan" Peter Magai Bul and Kuek Aleu Garang will be voting for the first time in this year's election. Oprah will feature their experience as first time voters on her show on election day. Tune in on Tuesday, 4 November to see Peter and Kuek along with their guests: former NBA Legend Manute Bol, Malual Mayol Awak (President of the Sudanese Community Association of Illinois), John Dut Kuol (Board Member, Chicago Association for the Lost Boys of Sudan), and Onam Liduba (Acting President, CALBOS). Check local listings to find when Oprah plays in your area.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

This Year's Trip to Southern Sudan

Following up on last year’s assessment trip, many Ayual community members and friends will travel to Southern Sudan this upcoming November and December. Those traveling include ACDA state representatives David Yak Mayen, John Mading Dut, and Angok Manyuon, former president of ACDA David Biar Gak, former board chairman of ACDA Deng Wal Biar, current deputy board chairman of ACDA Jim Thompson, ACDA members Jima Bul Magiir, Malith Bul Ajak, Bul Deng Bul, and friends of ACDA Craig and Colin Sternagel, Ariahna Jones, and Susan Gordon.

Some of the projects planned for this year’s trip include continued assessment, evaluation of the health clinic and building progress, and providing materials for the continued success of Pongborong Primary School, including cooking materials for the five cooks who prepare food for the children, bicycles for teachers, and school supplies.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Thank You to Eliza Mozer

Eliza Mozer has raised over $7,500 for the ACDA!

Our heartfelt thank you to Eliza Mozer, her parents, Karen and Jordan, and her younger sisters, Chloe and Isabel, for their tremendous efforts in fundraising for the ACDA. Eliza’s Mitzvah fundraising project has touched many people’s hearts in a way that will never be forgotten. In addition to raising awareness and funds for Pongborong Primary School in Southern Sudan, Eliza has also inspired people of all ages, giving them the courage, energy, and commitment to make a difference in their communities and beyond.

Our deep appreciation also goes to all the people, mostly from the Jewish Community, who supported Eliza by generously donating funds to her fundraising effort. Special thanks, also, to the Wisconsin-based Jewish Community Foundation, who are also contributing. Their support of Eliza’s Pongborong Primary School project will not only have impact on the education of Sudanese chlidren, but on all young people who helped make this fundraising effort a success. This project is a reminder that everything is possible.

Eliza’s overall goal is to raise $10,000. If you want to help her toward that goal or learn more about her project, visit her website: http://www.firstgiving.com/elizamozer

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A New Alliance to Rebuild Southern Sudan

September 20-21st about 40 Sudanese Lost Boys and their American friends representing more than 15 US-based non profit organizations rebuilding Southern Sudan gathered in Rochester, New York for the first time to discuss the formation of an alliance. ACDA president Peter Magai Bul helped to coordinate this effort and he, along with Brandi Reissenweber, attended this meeting to lay the groundwork for the alliance.

Individually, many of the organizations involved have already made a real impact in Southern Sudan. ACDA has helped establish and support Pongborong Primary School. The John Dau Sudan Foundation has built and runs a hospital in Duk County. Water for Sudan has drilled new boreholes providing clean water in several communities in Southern Sudan. Working together, however, we can make an even larger impact, providing the framework of primary and secondary school education, clean water, better access to health care and developing agricultural programs.

Read more at RNews: Rochester Sends Hope to Sudan

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Relief in Haiti

A friend of ACDA has asked us to help spread the word about support needed in hurricane relief efforts in Haiti. If you want to learn more and help, read this letter from the Haitian Congress to Fortify Haiti.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Eliza Mozer Fundraiser for Pongborong Primary School

As Eliza quoted in her Bat Mitzvah speech on Saturday:
“Be the change you want to see in the world.” ~Mahatma Gandhi

Eliza Mozer, a 13-year-old daughter of Karen and Jordon Mozer, sets a shining example of how young people can bring change to help those in far away lands. Last year, with the support of religious school leader Heidi Kon, Eliza’s synagogue, Chicago Sinai Congregation, was able to raise funds in the amount of $5,000 to benefit the ACDA.

In early September, Eliza had a Bat Mitzvah (a Jewish coming of age ceremony). As a “Mitzvah Project” (a charitable activity), Eliza chose to raise money for the ACDA’s Pongborong Primary School in Southern Sudan, which has an enrollment of over 800 students from grades 1-7. Every $15 buys a school uniform for a child, and every $30 buys a desk for a child that now studies at a dirt mound.

While Eliza wanted to be more helpful beyond just raising money, she has so far raised over $1,000 for the school. Eliza’s family will also host a fundraiser at their home in late September for invited guests. A friend and associate of theirs will prepare Sudanese cuisine and several members of ACDA will deliver a presentation, share their personal experiences and respond to questions from invited guests. Among those speaking will be Peter Magai Bul, ACDA’s President, and Maketh Bul Mabior, Duot Angok Aguer, John Deng Ayiel, John Mading Dut, and Deng Akoi Jurkuch. These young men are among the “Lost Boys of Sudan” who, as children, walked thousands of miles to escape the violence of Sudan’s civil war.

Sudan has long been in a state of turmoil, with a civil war that has killed over 2 million people and displaced over 4 million from Southern Sudan, and a genocide that has killed about 300,000 and displaced roughly 2.5 million in Darfur.

If you would like to support Eliza’s fundraising initiative, please consider making a donation by sending your check made payable to:

Ayual Community Development Association
In the memo line write
"Eliza Mozer Fundraiser for PPS"

Send your donation to:
Ayual Community Development Association
5703 Finbourough Court
Richmond, VA 23228

Or visit ACDA's website to donate by credit card and or also on Eliza Mozer’s web site.

Donations are tax deductible.

For more information, please contact Karen or Eliza Mozer at kmozer@rcn.com and emozer@rcn.com

Monday, August 18, 2008

Congressman Frank Wolf: A Man of Principle and Courage

Congressman Frank Wolf (center) with (from left to right) David Biar Gak, Peter Magai Bul, John Dut Kuol, John Chol Pajieth

A note from the Friends of Congressman Frank Wolf:

For many Americans, Frank Wolf is a Congressman from Virginia. But for thousands of helpless innocent civilians from South Sudan to Rwanda and from China to the Balkans, Frank Wolf is the defender of the forgotten and at times the lonely voice for the victims of government abuses and genocide. When very few people care to listen to the victims of abuse in South Sudan, Nuba, and Darfur, Frank Wolf was there. His commitment, dedication, and courage to stand up for what he believes are unparalleled.

When children were being bombed in schools and villages in remote places in South Sudan, Frank Wolf stood with them despite the enormous risks and difficulties. Congressman Frank Wolf first went to Sudan in April 1989 to visit the war zones of South Sudan. He was the first American to enter Torit, a major town in the South, which had just been liberated by the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA). Since that first visit to Torit, Congressman Wolf never stopped to fight for millions of helpless people in Sudan.

During his risky and difficult visit, Mr. Wolf met and came to know well Dr. John Garang, the visionary head of the SPLM. Dr. John continually spoke of his vision of a “New Sudan”, a Sudan of equality and democracy for all Sudanese governed with integrity. The late Dr Garang said of Frank Wolf on a number of occasions that “Frank is a man of principle, who always stood with us.” Congressman Wolf never asked for recognition and in fact he always expressed his appreciation for other people. In a meeting in his office with Vice President Salva Kiir last year, Mr. Wolf told President Salva that “the world should thank you for fighting for the freedom of your people and for standing firm against the regime in Khartoum.”

Mr. Wolf, well known as a defender of the helpless, is an American hero, a leader on international life-and-death issues that his constituents may not be fully aware of, and a moral giant in terms similar to those of one of his own personal heroes, British abolitionist leader William Wilberforce. At the height of the Sudanese conflict and when the SPLM desperately needed help, an ill-informed senior American official, without proper authorization, informed regional leaders that they should not assist the SPLM. When Frank Wolf got briefed about this development, he took Administration officials to task. Had that policy remained in place, the SPLM would have been weakened militarily and the Sudanese government would have pursued its military campaign instead of negotiations.

Mr. Wolf’s commitment to the people of Sudan is fueled by his personal commitment to peace, justice, equality and good governance, as well as his awareness that Khartoum has presided over the entirely unnecessary war-related deaths of more than two million human beings in Sudan during the NIF/NCP’s rule, one of the largest civilian body counts since the Holocaust. There is an African proverb that accurately describes the man we call the defender of the helpless: He who tells the truth is never wrong! Mr. Wolf consistently and tirelessly spoke the truth in defense of the victims. Another African proverb says “He, who does not seize opportunity today, will be unable to seize tomorrow's opportunity.” We certainly don’t want to miss this important opportunity to say thank you for all that you have done and continue to do to help those in need.

Dear friends, we invite you to join us express our appreciations to Congressman Frank Wolf at an event on August 25, 2008 at 5:00PM. The event will be held at Hunan Dynasty Restaurant: 215 Pennsylvania Ave. SE Washington, D.C. Please invite all your friends. RSVP at: friendsofwolf@gmail.com

Roger Winter
Ted Dagne
Rebecca Garang
Mia Farrow
Brian D’Silva
John Prendergast
Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth
Faith McDonnell

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Health Care in Southern Sudan

According to Grace Mukasa of the African Medical and Research Foundation, there are only 700 health care workers in all of Southern Sudan. One hundred of those are doctors. They serve over eight million people. That's approximately 1 health care worker for every 11,500 people. Compare that with Europe, where there are 19 health care workers for every 1000 people.

Part of our plan for the Pongborong Health Care Clinic is to train health care workers who can serve in the clinic and in mobile units to travel to the more remote areas.

These statistics are sobering reminders of just how vital this project is for the Ayual community and Southern Sudan.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Remembering Dr. John Garang de Mabior

ACDA President Peter Magai Bul writes:

Dr. Garang's Final Words to Over Twelve Thousand Sudanese Lost Boys & Girls in America
Members of Nyuak Community (of which the Ayual Community belongs) in Sudan and all over the world will be commemorating and reflecting on Dr. John Garang’s life today. Dr. John Garang, who was the first Vice President of the Republic of Sudan, first president of South Sudan, and Chairman and Commander in Chief of the SPLA/M, perished in a helicopter crash on the 30th of July in 2005. Garang, who was born in 1945 in Wangulei, found in Twic East County of Jongulei state in Southern Sudan, was special to the Sudanese Lost Boys & and Girls and so were we to him. Although he used to regularly visit us in Ethiopia during the 80s and 90s, Garang’s final visit with us was in Phoenix, AZ in 2004 at the 1st National Conference & Reunion. More than 12,000 Sudanese Lost Boys and Girls and American friends attended this event. Dr. John Garang spoke in a tone I never heard in his past speeches—as if he knew that his life and work of liberating oppressed Sudanese were coming to an end. He congratulated and honored our successes and accomplishments and he informed, advised, educated, encouraged, and warned Sudanese Lost Boys and Girls about the unfinished jobs that he believed his US Ambassadors (Lost Boys and Girls) are capable of pursuing. Sudan’s Ambassador to Japan, Setepano Wondu, has shared Dr. John Garang’s full speech here: "Viva John Garang"

Mayor Phil Gordon's Message to the Same Twelve Thousand Sudanese Lost Boys and Girls
At the 1st National Conference & Reunion, Phil Gordon, Mayor for the City of Phoenix, generosity welcomed thousands of the Sudanese Lost Boys and Girls, including Sudanese officials led by late Dr. John Garang. Mayor Gordon shared this message with us for years ago:

“….Even before you have completed the task of organizing yourselves nationally, you have the eyes of the world upon you at this very gathering. I am confident in your ability to come together in a spirit of unity towards a greater good – bringing the world’s awareness to the plight of the desperate people in South Sudan. I have great faith that you will conduct your business as responsible leaders, rising above factional and political differences. As you speak, Phoenix will hear and learn about the Lost Boys and Girls of Sudan, the children of Sudan’s war-torn countryside. Millions of your people, including children, have lost their lives. Millions of your people have no voice, except through you. Millions of your people have no future, except through you. The despair and tragedy spans every tribe, every religion, every language, and every culture found in your vast land. But they still hold out hope for a day where they will again know the security and comfort of their family’s love, the prosperity of a country no longer at war, and peace in their homeland. Such cherished dreams will require all of the love, work, faith, trust and compassion we can assemble as allies and friends across the world. If you master this spirit of unity at your first national conference over these next three days, you will truly be maturing into the leaders deeply needed by your country. Each one of you has my respect and admiration for enduring a life that no child should ever face, for recognizing that the road ahead is still long, filled with both hardship and unexpected joy, self-discipline and the barest glimpse of cherished dreams”

When We Lost Him

Video: "Dr. John Garang Memory Day"

A few days after my return from the 1st National Sudanese Lost Boys and Girls Conference & Reunion in Phoenix, AZ, many of the Chicago’s Lost Boys and their American friends began discussing Dr. John Garang’s safely and future of Sudan should he sign the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). On a Thursday night at a gathering at St. Paul's By-The-Lake Episcopal Church Sylvester Bona and Karen called me to their table to answer some of the questions that were most concerning. Why would Dr. John Garang sign the CPA if Southern Sudan’s oil and other resource would be shared 50-50 between the North and South? Would it be safe for Dr. John Garang to go to Khartoum to sign the agreement? I simply told them it would be okay for the South to have a share of 50% instead of the 0% they have been getting since the discovery of oil in Sudan, perhaps to even, once again, prepare their army for a third war if the CPA is later violated again. As for Garang’s safety, I told them Dr. John Garang doesn’t favor his life more than the lives of 2.5 millions Sudanese who died during the 22 years of sacrifice. Garang knew Sudanese heroes would continue sacrificing, should something take his life.

These same issues came up often and we discussed them at length. About 11 months later, many of us were speechless as we learned about Garang’s death. It was at 9pm on the day of Garang's death that one of the Sudanese Lost Boys, Peter Barach Kuany from Omaha, Nebraska, called me at work and asked, “Magai, have you heard anything from Sudan today?”

I replied, “No.”

“I am not sure, but something bad happened,” Peter said.

I asked Peter to hang up the phone and told him that I will go and check the internet before I call him back. I began to wonder whether Garang has been assassinated. I rushed to the internet and Garang’s death everywhere in the news. Many Lost Boys across the US and those in Africa began calling me, but I was speechless. Many of the Lost Boys, including my roommates, didn't show up at the work the following days. No one was talking or eating. My Kenyan friend, Simon Ogeto, who writes for the Mashariki News, called me and asked if I had any thoughts for the Sudanese Community and their American friends. I told him that I wasn’t ready for a phone interview and preferred to send him a brief email note, which he published and shared with everyone: "Sudan's Vice President Garang dies in copter crash; peace deal at risk."

Fulfilling Dr. John Garang's Dream and Vision

Dr. John Garang has taught us much and we have so much to remember about him and his leadership. With the educational opportunities we are providing to children in Sudanese villages, I believe that Sudan, in Garang’s own words, will never be the same again. Sudan Ambassador to Japan, Setepano Wondu has much more on Dr. John Garang’s dreams, vision, and work as you can read in her series of articles at Sudan Tribune: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

Monday, July 21, 2008

Sudanese Music & Dance Festival 2008

ACDA president Peter Magai Bul writes:

Dear friends,

Perhaps, some of you were at the Millennium Park's Sudanese Music & Dance Festival 2008, but here is Southern Sudan's Kennedy performing Thursday, July 10:

The concert just ended with a special after party at the Ethiopian Diamond Restaurant Sunday night. Thanks to those who attended the concert!

Friday, July 11, 2008

2008 Benefit Dinner

Last Saturday’s benefit dinner was a great opportunity for fellowship and fundraising. Several of the “Lost Boys of Sudan” talked about their experience during the war in Sudan, in Kakuma Refugee Camp, and adjusting to life in America. John Maluk Yak, Vice President of ACDA read one of his poems-in-progress:

Memory of our journey

War, genocide, torture, persecution
War, separation, long walk

When we left our country, running for life
we didn’t know we would feed on trees!
Hunger! O boy we were Hungry!

War, separation, long walk

When we left our country, running for life
we didn’t know we would walk the desert!
Long desert! Long walk! O boy we were thirsty!

War, separation, long walk

When we left our country, running for life
we didn’t know we would swim the rivers!
Crocodiles! O boy we were drowning!

War, separation, long walk

When we left our country, running for life
we didn’t know we would walk over a thousands miles!
Long way long walk! O boy O our feet!

War, separation, long walk

When we left our country, running for life
we didn’t know we would suffer in the bush, suffer hunger, suffer thirst,
suffer disease, suffer homesickness in refugee camps, in Ethiopia, Kenya
Africa my continent…..

War, separation, long walk

When we left our country, running for life
we didn’t know we would keep moving,
moving across the world …escaping war, genocide, torture, persecution

When we came to America,
We were called Lost Boys, “Lost Boys” of Sudan,
Sudan… “Lost Boys” of Sudan….

War, separation, long walk

John went on to talk about his experience in High School in the US and how difficulties with the language caused problems:

Sometimes I was confused and said to some boys, “hi, you look beautiful”! They were so mad and were about to beat me! They responded, “we are not girls, we are boys, my friend”, and I apologized to them.

The question came afterward, “John, do you like girls?” Yes, I love them my friends. Why? They laughed and said, “Don't call us beautiful, ok? Here in America, we do not call boys beautiful. We only call girls beautiful!”

In addition to John, David Biar Gak, Jacob Bol Bul, Peter Magai Bul, and Deng Akoi Jurkuch spoke. Senator Jacqueline Collins and Reverend Cedric L. McCay were in attendance to offer a message of support. ACDA is grateful to the Faith Community of Saint Sabina and Reverend Michael Louis Pfleger for opening their doors for this benefit dinner.

The dinner itself was a feast of traditional Sudanese food. Delicious!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

War Crimes

The New York Times reports on the “increasing likelihood” that Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, will ask judges for an arrest warrant for Sudan’s president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir for the war crimes in Darfur:

The indictment of a sitting head of state in a war-torn country would not be unprecedented: Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia and Charles Taylor of Liberia were both charged by international war crimes courts while in office.

But the complexity and fragility of Sudan’s multiple conflicts have led many diplomats, analysts and aid workers to worry that the Sudanese government could lash out at the prosecutor’s move by expelling Western diplomats and relief workers who provide aid to millions of people displaced by the fighting, provoking a vast crisis and shutting the door to vital diplomatic efforts to bring lasting peace.

The dueling objectives have exposed a growing tension: between justice and peace, that is, between the prosecution of war criminals and the compromises of diplomacy.

Tensions between the North and South are at an all time high since the conflict in May over oil-rich Abyei, which displaced 50,000 people. Some argue this move against the president can make an already shaky situation much worse. Other analysts disagree, saying this increased pressure could change the government’s behavior. A precarious situation.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Southern Sudan’s Girls’ Education Day

Monday, 7 July was the annual Girls’ Education Day in Southern Sudan, an opportunity to celebrate achievements and target new initiatives in increasing the enrollment of girls in school. Girls’ Education Day is part of a larger campaign launched by the Government of Southern Sudan and UNICEF in 2006 to rebuild Southern Sudan’s education system. Enrollment of girls has jumped from 14% of total students in 2005 to 34% today.

ACDA is proud to join in this celebration. Our school, Pongborong Primary School, currently serves 800 students, about half of which are girls. We’re very proud of these numbers, which are unusual for Southern Sudan, but there’s still a lot of work to do. Many girls have to stay home to help with day-to-day tasks, such as fetching water from one of only four boreholes that serve a population of over 40,000. We’re also working to help parents and families understand the importance of girls’ education. Developments in water availability, transportation, and community education are vital to the success of retaining and increasing the numbers of female students.

We’ll keep you posted on our efforts. In the meantime, check out photos from Maketh Bul’s trip to Pongborong Primary School in December of 2006.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Sudan Divestment

During Saturday's benefit dinner, Illinois Senator Jacqueline Collins voiced her support for the Lost Boys of Sudan and the work they're doing in Southern Sudan and the US. Senator Collins has been a strong voice for Sudan; one of her major legislative accomplishments is Illinois' Sudan Divestment Act to End Atrocities and terrorism in Sudan. At the benefit dinner, she discussed the importance of divestment and our responsibility to hold our government, our community leaders, and ourselves accountable.

To divest in Sudan is to withdrawal investments that benefit the Government of Sudan. Investing in companies affiliated with Sudan's government helps to supply the military with weapons and ammunition that fuel the atrocities taking place in Darfur. By divesting, we put pressure on the government to take responsibility for these human rights violations. A recent study found that "70 percent of oil-related revenue generated in Sudan goes toward military expenditures." (Full article: "Sudan Divestment Campaigns Gain Momentum.") While this divestment is growing, Senator Collins pointed out that many large companies and organizations, including the University of Chicago, still refuse to do so.

The Genocide Intervention Network has created the Sudan Divestment Task Force to support divestment efforts. Their site has great resources for individuals and businesses looking into divestment, including a tool you can use to screen your own mutual funds for involvement in Sudan.

More on the benefit dinner, including pictures, coming soon.

Monday, June 16, 2008

ACDA Benefit Dinner

Saturday, 5 July 2008, 5:30pm-7:30pm
Faith Community of Saint Sabina
1210 West 78th Place, Chicago, IL 60620

ACDA's annual benefit dinner is quickly approaching. The event will feature traditional Sudanese food and a performance by the choir of the "Lost Boys and Girls of Sudan."

Join us to celebrate our successes and raise funds to benefit the ongoing efforts in Southern Sudan, including development projects at Pongborong Primary School and the construction of a new health clinic.

Check out the flyer for full details. We hope to see you there.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Talk at Sulzer Library, Chicago

On Saturday, 31 May several ACDA members gathered at Sulzer Library, a branch of the Chicago Public Library, to do a presentation on our recent assessment of the Ayual Community in Southern Sudan. For many of the Lost Boys of Sudan on our team, including ACDA President Peter Magai Bul, it was the first visit home in nearly twenty years.

There were about sixty people in attendance at Sulzer. Peter Barach Kuany brought his Sudanese guitar and kicked off the event with some traditional music. About ten Lost Boys joined in, singing in Dinka. It was a thrilling start to the program.

Peter Magai Bul put together a great presentation with photographs from our recent trip, including images of the Pongborong Primary School students who greeted us in song, and the reunion with his family.

Our assessment report is now online. You can download the Detailed Report or a One Page Summary.