Violence Delays South Sudan Education Effort

By Peter O'Dowd
January 07, 2014
Peter O'Dowd
Kuol Awan, executive director of the Lost Boy Center for Leadership Development.

A planned education mission from Arizona to South Sudan has been tabled until the violence in that country stops.

The Phoenix-based Lost Boy Center For Leadership Development had planned to move its headquarters to South Sudan this month, said Director Kuol Awan.

But with the country on the brink of a civil war, Awan didn't make the trip to establish his new offices. Now, he's watching peace talks closley from Arizona. 

After re-establishing the headquarters, the education program was scheduled to begin. A team of U.S.-educated Lost Boys, who fled similar violence in Sudan decades ago, had planned to work as teachers in local schools this spring. One of those recruits now lives in Phoenix, Awan said.   

Bor, a city where some recruits had planned to go, has been hit the hardest by recent bloodshed between government troops and rebels loyal to the former vice president.

Government leaders are meeting with rebels to arrange a cease fire. More than a thousand people have died and hundreds of thousands have been displaced since December.

Awan said he would not risk the teachers’ lives “by sending them when they do not want to go.”

Awan’s own plans to move his entire family back to South Sudan as part of this mission is now off the table. When he does go, he will likely return alone.

“My personal decision is, when the gunshots stop, I can still go back,” he said.