Ambassadors for Change, a 501c3 non-profit organization based in Atlanta, GA, spearheaded by former Lost Boy Nathaniel Nyok, is a school building project whose aim is to build and support Alliance High School in Bor, the capitol of Jonglei State, in South Sudan, as there is minimal opportunity for education in this area. Ambassadors for Change recognizes the importance of education to South Sudan, as education serves as the catalyst for peace and the key to the success of the world’s newest country. Specifically, the project will (1) build Alliance High School in Bor, Jonglei State, South Sudan; (2) provide necessary supplies and tools needed for the implementation and sustainment of a successful learning environment; (3) provide funds to maintain the school. The mission of Ambassadors of Change is “to provide accessible education to the citizens of South Sudan regardless of race, gender, religion, or cultural belief.”
Bor stands in a central location to eleven counties and the six tribes within Jonglei State. For generations, these six tribes have depended on cattle, and this dependence has resulted in an ethos of raiding other tribes for cattle to sustain a living. Ambassadors for Change firmly believes that education will serve to develop a more peaceful and unified society and provide South Sudan with the tools to become a self-sustaining nation. Alliance High School will result in the following changes:
- Convert Warriors into Peacemakers: Through education, this generation of South Sudanese children will be cut off from training as warriors and raiders and will instead learn the dialogue of diplomacy, a diplomacy that will serve to eliminate tribal conflicts and unify the tribes.
- Create a Monolithic Identity: Currently, due to a lack of education, people in South Sudan are loyal to tribes and not to a nation; they lack the understanding of the significance of nationalism. Education will aid in fostering a new identity, a loyalty to one nation instead of a loyalty to individual warring tribes. This new monolithic identity will serve to eradicate future intertribal conflicts.
- Improve Lives: Education will generate other means of income, which will further aid the development of a self-sustaining South Sudan. As education will create other means of income, the people of South Sudan will no longer have to raid other tribes for survival, which results in the loss of life. Instead, they will work to support their families and develop their nation.
- Promote a Culture of Peace: In keeping with the saying “the pen is mightier than the sword,” Alliance High School will enable the six divergent tribes within these eleven counties to strive towards education as a cohesive whole, and as a result, education will serve to foster peace and build a unified South Sudan.
The politics of developing nations in Africa are complex. Sudan has had a particularly challenging history in recent years and the country has split into two nations. The future of this nation is being forged now and strong leaders will be needed to chart a successful course on the global frontier. The global stage, however, is not the most important consideration. The saying “all politics are local” indicates the personal nature of political change: to be truly effective in fighting a global problem, change must begin and become sustainable at the local level. Thus, the first step on the road to change is a sound education.
The Ambassadors for Change founder, Nathaniel Nyok, is a native of Sudan. One of the famed “Lost Boys” who fled the Arab soldier’s raids on villages throughout his country, Nyok faced an arduous trek through wilderness and constant danger to escape his attackers. The International Rescue Committee estimates that of the nearly 20,000 Lost Boys who fled the violence in Sudan, less than half of that number made it to safety. Nyok was one of 4,000 Lost Boys who were brought to the United States and resettled in 2001.
Nyok’s knowledge of his home country is vital to accomplishing the foundation’s goals. With a direct insight into the culture, social conventions, political structure, and economic challenges present in modern Sudan, Nyok’s experience and insight serves as essential components for this important school building project.
Ambassadors for Change is founded with the goal to promote education in South Sudan, the world’s newest country. As John F. Kennedy astutely declared, “Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation.” The current literacy rate in South Sudan is less than ten percent, and Ambassadors for Change aims to provide South Sudan with the tools of education, which is the key to strengthen this new nation.