Education to Change a Nation
Education at Tea
Project Education South Sudan hosted tea at an historic mansion in North Denver. The sun was out, the bulbs were in bloom, the tea and crumpets (and scones and sandwiches and cookies) were delicious. This was the background for a riveting talk by South Sudanese activist Helen Achol Abyei. Though from a teacher’s family in South Sudan, Helen was forced to give up her education and marry at age 14. She eventually immigrated to the United States with her six children, who are all now college educated (especially the girls!). And Helen herself persisted, receiving her bachelor’s degree here at the age of 61. In the meantime, she has been a staunch advocate for girls’ education in South Sudan. Her personal experiences and insights highlighted the many obstacles to educating the young women of her birth nation, as well as the slow, but essential, change being affected by organizations such as Project Education South Sudan. Emmy-winning journalist Tamara Banks, a longtime supporter of PESS and editor of a new South Sudan video sent her greeting to the audience via video from Uganda, where she is reporting on other social justice stories in Africa. Thank you to all who attended and took in the importance of girls’ education in South Sudan and other underdeveloped countries, while enjoying tea!
Education cannot wait for the ongoing conflict in South Sudan to end. Project Education South Sudan, PESS, believes that developing educated young leaders is the only sustainable way to end the cycle of violence South Sudan is experiencing. PESS is led by a former South Sudanese Lost Boy – now a college educated United States citizen – working on the ground in rural South Sudan. As a result, PESS is uniquely positioned to partner with South Sudanese communities as they educate their girls, create their own new leaders, and maintain essential educational infrastructure. Our vision is “education to change a nation” and here is what we do:
Inside the classroom and out, we empower girls with the skills they need to build a better future. We support girls in secondary school, including after-school tutoring and special programs to bond their “girl” community and encourage global awareness. HIV/AIDS awareness and menstrual management programs are part of our programming as well.
Girl leadership development, teacher education, health management programs which “train trainers”, and workshops in financial literacy and other economic skills are the core of our indigenous leadership empowerment. These programs are primarily led by South Sudanese and created with a local context.
The physical development we support maintains schools, makes water more accessible, frees girls for education by shortening their daily tasks, and allows communities to build themselves from the ground up.