December is a busy month for MBSS students as they finished up the 2014 school year!
Marial Bai Secondary School began the last term of the 2014 school year in October. Students in Form 4 will soon be preparing for graduation exams and the VAD Foundation will be celebrating the 3rd graduating class of MBSS in early December! The school has grown from 95 students in 2009 to 425 students in 2014, offering a life changing opportunities to hundreds of South Sudanese youth.
Earlier this month, the Valentino Achak Deng Foundation was honored to participate in the US-Africa Leaders Summit. The summit was an unprecedented step forward in US-African relations. Valentino Deng as well as Tiffany DeBartolo, Board Member, represented the VAD Foundation at the Summit.
Underdevelopment and a history of conflict in the new nation of South Sudan have limited citizens' access to basic services and resources. The conflict in South Sudan has displaced over 1.5 million people since the outbreak of violence in December 2013. Communities are vulnerable to food shortages, disease, and violence. While fighting in the South Sudanese states of Jonglei and Upper Nile has continued, the Marial Bai community, located in the state of North Bahr al-Ghazal, has remained relatively peaceful. Marial Bai Secondary School students are on break for the rainy season, and teachers are preparing for the second semester at MBSS. The VAD Foundation and MBSS have expanded new extracurricular activities at the school, including the drama and musical theater programs, as a way to promote creativity and cultural understanding.
The VAD Foundation continues to invest in the Marial Bai community through vocational training, solar energy, and sustainable agriculture. Your contributions keep Marial Bai Secondary School food secure and promote peace and prosperity through educational programs. Fewer than two percent of children enroll in secondary school in South Sudan, and less than one percent of girls who enroll in secondary school actually graduate. Most girls do not complete high school, or even enroll, because of early marriages, pregnancy, and duties at home.
Your donations make it possible for Marial Bai Secondary School to provide unprecedented access to education in the area, especially for girls. Dormitories, a full-time kitchen staff, and solar-powered electricity ensure MBSS students have a stable, worry-free environment in which learning is their main focus. MBSS continues to rank as one of the top high schools in all of South Sudan, and its students are South Sudan’s future leaders.
Despite the events since December 2013, South Sudan is a nation full of hope. The VAD Foundation and MBSS needs your help to continue the mission of providing free, exemplary education to the people of Marial Bai.
The VAD Foundation
Thank you for your amazing dedication to progress in South Sudan by supporting Marial Bai Secondary School and the VAD Foundation in 2013. We ask you to join us in celebrating a few of the accomplishments your donations made possible. Find out more by reading this year's annual report.
Thank you for the generous response to our last newsletter. Many of you responded with concerns and contributions to help with food costs after the floods. For World Hunger Day 2013, The Guardian featured the Northern Bahr el Ghazal state where Marial Bai Secondary School is located.
Recent floods have affected tens of thousands across South Sudan. Marial Bai is no exception and our farm has taken a hit. Without proper irrigation, large farm equipment, or a trained individual to oversee the land, many of our ground crops were lost. Incidences like this flood are challenging but also inspire hope because of your support.
Thank you for your generous response to our last e-mail! We stressed that we needed $30,000 by the end of August to secure the appropriate equipment for the harvest and create a position at the school for an agriculture specialist to oversee both farms that directly benefit Marial Bai Secondary School.
Last July, the Republic of South Sudan gained independence from the north and became the world's newest nation. Eight months later, joyful celebrations of freedom continue, but problems are far from over. The two countries remain in conflict over land and oil, and thousands of South Sudanese continue to be forcibly displaced from areas along the northern border.