by Tafadzwa Mhepoh | NUST-ZW
IMAGINE being born and growing up in a war zone. You never have a permanent place of residence, just always moving from place to place in a bid to escape death and survive. You never understand why people are getting killed and more so, why your parents and thousands of other families are suffering in the bushes.
For many years of your childhood you are not learning but just watching hundreds of children and adults, including your mom, die due to lack of medicine, food and clean water.
However, due to interventions by non-profit organizations such as the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, you are able to move to a refugee camp in a neighbouring country and start schooling there. Life in the camp is not rosy but you make a commitment to do your best, make the most of the opportunity and become a change maker.
Such is the story of Jacob Maluak Manyang a South-Sudanese student at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln (UNL), United States. I met Jacob during a study abroad trip in the US early this year. Jacob was resettled in the United States in 2006 where he continued with his high school education. He had just turned 19.
Jacob who recently completed his degree in Agronomy and Crop Production is the founder of a student society called Save South Sudanese Orphans and Widows (SSSOW) at UNL. The student organization’s goal is to provide orphans and widows back in Sudan with basic necessities, which include basic education, clean water, and healthcare.
Jacob spoke at eloquent length about his motivation for establishing the organization and the roller-coaster ride it has been running an aid organization as a student.
“While living here in the US, I always think about ways to assist the many orphans and widows that are still suffering in South Sudan,” said Jacob. “After studying agronomy and crop production at UNL, my aim is to go back to the refugee camps and train orphans and widows in the agricultural skills that will help them produce their own food,” he added.
Jacob said the organization works to raise money in order to provide access to basic education and free, fresh water to South Sudan as well as Doctors and Dentists Without Borders to provide medical support to orphans and widows.
Activities of SSSOW in the United States include doing fundraising projects such as promotions and selling t-shirts; advertising the noble cause of the organization by talking to people and reaching out to leaders in the community and applying for grants from aid agencies.
Jacob’s goals this year are to raise about US$15 000 and visit Sudan at least once / twice in order to deliver aid and make a difference.
Responding to my question on challenges he faced in running the society, he mentioned that it was hard to find staff to run the non-profit establishment when he set up in 2013. However with a little perseverance, he was able to attract students from diverse backgrounds to help him fulfill his mission.
You too can help SSSOW make a difference in the lives of our brothers and sisters from other mothers by making a donation of at least US$1. Follow this link
If you are inspired by Jacob’s story and are considering starting your own student society that could change other’s lives, check the next ARTICLE for a 9 point step -by-step guide of how to.